The newest College Scorecard data released several weeks ago reveals an ongoing trend in student debt. The median student debt increased 13.1% from 2015 to 2016. The median student debt has now more than doubled since 2007 as shown by the following graph. We calculated this using a weighted average of the number of students in the cohort times the median debt by institution. There are over 37 million students in 2016 reflected in this calculation. You can browse the new College Scorecard data for free using our Data Browser tool.
Median Debt is defined within the College Scorecard documentation as the debt accumulated at the institution by all student borrowers of federal loans who separate (i.e., either graduate or withdraw) in a given fiscal year, measured at the point of separation. More specifically, the measure represents the sum of all undergraduate federal loans over students’ college education at the institution for which the median debt is reported for —e.g., if a student receives a federal loan for $2,000 for each of eight semesters at one institution, their cumulative debt is recorded as $16,000 for that institution. Median Debt does not represent all forms of debt, but only subsidized forms of loans.
The student debt data is disaggregated by a number of criteria such as gender, completion status, pell recipients, or family income.