How You Can See Your College’s Long-Term Default Rate

Two students walk on a brick path on a campus, January 2014.

Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress obtained a massive new data set on federal student loan outcomes through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. These data were originally provided to Congress last fall as part of efforts by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. They were the basis for an op-ed recently published in The New York Times.

The data provide an annual look over five years at student loan outcomes for borrowers who started repaying their loans in 2012. And they are available at the institutional level for more than 4,700 institutions.

There are three particularly noteworthy things about these data. First, they track borrowers each year for up to five years. This makes it possible to see what happens to borrowers for two years longer than the three-year window the U.S. Department of Education uses to measure student loan defaults.

Second, the data provide a larger breakdown of loan outcomes than just default. They include information on how many borrowers fall into the following categories: current or less than 90 days late; paid off; in default; more than 90 days delinquent; not paying due to a military or in-school deferment; and not paying loans for other reasons, such as other forms of deferments or forbearances. These categories reflect the breakdown proposed by the Education and the Workforce Committee to judge student loan repayment.

Third, the data include information on outcomes both in terms of borrowers and the amount of loan dollars held. This makes it possible to see, for example, not just what percentage of borrowers are in default but how much student debt they owed.

To construct this file, CAP had to convert a PDF into an Excel spreadsheet and append colleges’ names and other information. To make these data more user friendly, readers can find a copy of a spreadsheet that contains a cleaned-up version of the data here. Please note that this spreadsheet has dropped schools that did not have any repayment data or foreign schools and has additional information on state, institutional sector, and other categories added. Additional STATA code used to produce this file as well as rawer versions of the data are available upon request.

Ben Miller is the senior director for Postsecondary Education at American Progress.