Journal Article

The Evolution of Student Debt 2019–2022: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances

Abstract: In recent years, economists and policymakers have been interested in the burden of student debt across socioeconomic groups. In this Economic Commentary, we use the two most recent waves of the Survey of Consumer Finances, collected in 2019 and 2022, to study changes in the joint distribution of student debt and two measures of “ability-to-pay,” income and net worth. We find that between 2019 and 2022, both the fraction of families with student debt and real student debt per family were essentially unchanged, and aggregate student debt fell as a fraction of aggregate income and net worth. However, over the same period, the distribution of student debt shifted toward higher-income and wealthier families, with a rise in the average student debt in the highest quintile of both income and net worth. Further, this shift was not driven by changes in the distribution of debtors, but, instead, in the amount of debt per family.

Keywords: education; student debt; Survey of Consumer Finances; ability to pay;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Part of Series: Economic Commentary

Publication Date: 2024-06-17

Volume: 2024

Issue: 10

Pages: 6