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Jel Classification:I22 

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Student Debt and Default: The Role of For-Profit Colleges

For-profit providers have become an important fixture of U.S. higher education markets. Students who attend for-profit institutions take on more educational debt and are more likely to default on their student loans than those attending similarly selective public schools. Because for-profits tend to serve students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, it is important to isolate the causal effect of for-profit enrollment on student debt and repayment outcomes as well as the educational and labor market mechanisms that drive any such effects. We approach this problem using a novel instrument ...
Staff Reports , Paper 811

Working Paper
Strategic Default Among Private Student Loan Debtors: Evidence from Bankruptcy Reform

Bankruptcy reform in 2005 restricted debtors? ability to discharge private student loan debt. The reform was motivated by the perceived incentive of some borrowers to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 even if they had, or expected to have, sufficient income to service their debt. Using a national sample of credit bureau files, we examine whether private student loan borrowers distinctly adjusted their Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing behavior in response to the reform. We do not find evidence to indicate that the moral hazard associated with dischargeability appreciably affected the behavior of ...
Working Papers , Paper 17-38

Working Paper
Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness

Borrowing for education has increased rapidly in the past several decades, such that the majority of non-housing debt on US households' balance sheets is now student loan debt. This chapter analyzes the implications of student loan borrowing for later-life economic well-being, with a focus on retirement preparation. We demonstrate that families holding student loan debt later in life have less savings than their similarly educated peers without such debt. However, these comparisons are misleading if the goal is to characterize the experience of the typical student borrower, as they fail to ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2022-019

Working Paper
Student Loans and Homeownership

We estimate the effect of student loan debt on subsequent homeownership in a uniquely constructed administrative dataset for a nationally representative cohort. We instrument for the amount of individual student debt using changes to the in-state tuition rate at public 4-year colleges in the student's home state. A $1,000 increase in student loan debt lowers the homeownership rate by about 1.5 percentage points for public 4-year college-goers during their mid 20s, equivalent to an average delay of 2.5 months in attaining homeownership. Validity tests suggest that the results are not ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2016-10

Working Paper
On Intergenerational Immobility : Evidence that Adult Credit Health Reflects the Childhood Environment

Using a novel dataset that links socioeconomic background to future credit, postsecondary education, and federal student loan and grant records, we document that, even though it is not and cannot be used by credit agencies in assigning risk, background is a strong predictor of adult credit health. A relationship remains upon inclusion of achievement, attainment, and debt management metrics. These findings reveal a new dimension along which childhood circumstances persist into adulthood and imply that the many important contexts in which credit scores are relied upon to evaluate individuals ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-032

Working Paper
Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid

We study the optimal design of student financial aid as a function of parental income. We derive optimal financial aid formulas in a general model. For a simple model version, we derive mild conditions on primitives under which poorer students receive more aid even without distributional concerns. We quantitatively extend this result to an empirical model of selection into college for the United States that comprises multidimensional heterogeneity, endogenous parental transfers, dropout, labor supply in college, and uncertain returns. Optimal financial aid is strongly declining in parental ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 14

Discussion Paper
Federal Student Loan Servicing Accountability and Incentives in Contracts

Student loan servicers play a critical and underappreciated role in federal student oan programs. The federal government contracts out to servicers an array of many of the most critical functions related to student loan repayment, including account management, payment processing, and the provision of information about payment plans and solutions for distressed borrowers. In fact, most borrowers’ interactions with federal student loan repayment are almost exclusively with their servicer. We aim to improve upon the scarce research literature about federal student loan servicers by exploring ...
Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers , Paper DP 20-05

Working Paper
An Experiment on Information Use in College Student Loan Decisions

There is ample concern that college students are making ill-informed student loan decisions with potentially negative consequences to themselves and the broader economy. This paper reports the results of a randomized field experiment in which college students are provided salient information about their borrowing choices. The setting is a large flagship public university in the Midwest, and the sample includes all nongraduating students who previously borrowed student loan money (~10,000 students). Half of the students received individually tailored letters with simplified information about ...
Working Papers , Paper 16-18

Working Paper
Do student loan borrowers opportunistically default? Evidence from bankruptcy reform

Bankruptcy reform in 2005 eliminated debtors? ability to discharge private student loan debt in bankruptcy. This law aimed to reduce costly defaults by diminishing the perceived incentive of some private student loan borrowers to declare bankruptcy even if they had sufficient income to service their debt. Using a unique, nationally representative sample of anonymized credit bureau files, we examine the bankruptcy filing and delinquency rates of private student loan borrowers in response to the 2005 bankruptcy reform. We do not find evidence that the nondischargeability provision reduced the ...
Working Papers , Paper 15-17

Report
College Tuition and Income Inequality

This paper evaluates the role of rising income inequality in explaining observed growth in college tuition. We develop a competitive model of the college market in which college quality depends on instructional expenditure and the average ability of admitted students. An innovative feature of our model is that it allows for a continuous distribution of college quality. We find that observed increases in US income inequality can explain more than the entire observed rise in average net tuition since 1990 and that rising income inequality has also depressed college attendance.
Staff Report , Paper 569

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