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Predictors and Consequences of Student Loan Default

Every year, roughly 1 million federal direct student loan borrowers default for the first time, despite options to delay or reduce payment. In this briefing, experts Kristin Blagg of the Urban Institute and Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute will discuss what the research says about people who default and how policy changes could help borrowers avoid default, or at least mitigate the consequences.

In recently published research, Blagg and Delisle found that borrowers owing less than $5,000 were more likely than those with higher loan balances to default within four years. Borrowers holding other collections debt—such as medical or utilities—were also more likely to default. Once in default, borrowers face byzantine rules and procedures that make resolutions confusing and unfair. Better data, increased counseling for at-risk borrowers, and simplified processes could help decrease defaults and ensure that those who default can get back on track.



  • Kristin Blagg, Research Associate, Urban Institute
  • Jason Delisle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Matthew Chingos, Director, Education Policy Program, Urban Institute (moderator)


Check-in will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the program will begin promptly at 10:30 a.m. For questions regarding this event, please contact [email protected]

Support for this event is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to



Date & Time Thursday, December 13, 2018
Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-G11
Washington , DC , 20515
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  • Principal Research Associate