Infographic: Student Loan Defaults Rise as Job Prospects Dim

Mary Mahling, Carla Uriona and Ben Wieder
September 19, 2011

Student loan defaults are rising fast, according to figures released this week by the U.S. Department of Education. While much of the press coverage focused on defaults by students attending for-profit schools, defaults at state colleges and universities went up, too. The bad job market is a big factor: Unemployment in 2010 was 10.1 percent for people between the age of 25 to 34, and those numbers are even higher when you remove people above the age of 30. At the same time, state budget cuts to higher education have led to big tuition hikes at many public colleges. California students graduated from public colleges with the least debt in the country in 2009, but tuition jumped 18 percent last year for in-state students in California and double-digit increases are projected for the next several years, as well.

This text and graphic were originally published on is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Center on the States that reports and analyzes trends in state policy.