Chart: Clueless About Debt Loads
This chart comes to us from an article in the Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham, in which he provides breakdown on a fuller report by the Brookings Institute titled “Are College Students Borrowing Blindly?“
In summary, yes. Most students seem to have little clue about how much debt they have accumulated, even as they continue to borrow in pursuit of an education. I suppose any of us who have been to college or deal with current college students are probably not surprised by this. We tend to be clueless about the sum or consequences of our loans right up to the point we start paying them… after we graduate.
The most shocking tidbit comes deep into the report when the authors discover that aside from misestimating debt loads, a goodly percentage of those with loans have no clue of this fact. The money quote: “Borrowers who are not aware they have any federal debt are surprisingly common. The NPSAS data indicate that 28 percent of first-year college students with federal debt reported that they did not have any federal debt. This may be partly the result of confusion about federal vs. other kinds of debt. Among students with federal debt, 14 percent reported having no debt at all. In other words, more than one-quarter of students do not understand that they have a loan from the federal government, and about half of these students appear to be genuinely unaware of the fact that they have borrowed for their education at all.” (Emphasis Mine).