Brief Fixing the Federal Student Lending System
Options for Policymakers in 2021
Matthew Chingos
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Federal student loans help many college students access and complete postsecondary degrees that would not have been attainable otherwise. But years of well-intentioned policymaking have left the student loan system a complicated mess that is difficult for borrowers to navigate and leads to unfair and inefficient distributions of taxpayer dollars. Significant structural changes are needed for the program to function equitably and efficiently for today’s students.

This brief highlights potential changes a new administration and Congress might make to the loan system, focusing on repayment plans, loan limits, public service loan forgiveness, and relief for current borrowers. Examining reforms proposed by policymakers and experts, the brief explores trade-offs, likely outcomes, and potential unintended consequences, providing policymakers a road map to begin thinking about redesigning the student loan program.

Research Areas Education Wealth and financial well-being
Tags Higher education Asset and debts Financial knowledge and capability Paying for college
Policy Centers Center on Education Data and Policy