46.5% of College Dropouts in Default

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About 60% of all college graduates complete their bachelor degree programs, with an average student loan debt of $16,723. The average college dropout owes nearly as much — $13,930 — and does not have a degree to show for it.

That degree is worth around $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings for male graduates and $630,000 more for female graduates. Without the financial advantage of a college degree and saddled with the disadvantage of having to repay student loans regardless, more than half (53%) of college dropouts are not currently making payments on their student loan debt.

Researchers at LendEDU polled 1,000 respondents who had dropped-out of a four-year higher education institution and also held some amount of student loan debt. Respondents were given the opportunity to enter an exact dollar amount when asked how much student loan debt they held at the time they made the choice to drop out of school. After averaging together all 1,000 responses, the researchers determined the average of $13,930.

The average student loan debt of all borrowers who graduate is $27,975, over $10,000 more than the average of all graduates whether they borrow or not and about double the amount owed by dropouts.

Other key points of the LendEDU dropout survey:

  • 46.5% of dropouts are in default on their student loan debt.
  • 23.5% expect the debt to be forgiven despite having dropped out.
  • 15% have no plans fully to repay their student loan debt.
  • 70.6% regret having dropped out.
  • 68.8% believe they could have repaid their loans faster if they had received a degree.

Nearly half of dropouts are in default (90 days or more past due) but only 15% have no plans to repay their student loans in full. That number of nonpayers is slightly higher than the current default rate among all borrowers of 11.5% for those who entered repayment status between fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

More information and results of the survey are available from LendEDU.