This report describes the levels of cumulative education debt among students with different levels of educational attainment and examines factors associated with high borrowing levels. Those with the most debt tend to be among those who have pursued graduate study. Among undergraduate borrowers, students enrolled in for-profit institutions, those who are independent of their parents, and those who stay in school longer are more likely than others to accumulate large debts. Students from low-income families are not more likely than others to borrow large amounts, at least in part because they tend to stay in school for fewer years.
This report was updated in July 2015. The percentage distributions of cumulative debt of degree recipients in 2004 and 2008 reported in appendix tables A.1 through A.3, and corresponding figures 1 through 3, were corrected.