Trouble lies ahead for student loans. InsideHigherEd reports that student loan default rates spiked in 2009, with the rate highest among students who attended for-profit institutions.
The Federal Student Aid office said that 8.9 percent of federal student loan borrowers who entered repayment between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009 had defaulted by September 30, 2010, up from 7.0 percent the year before. The article reports that the 27 percent increase "nearly equaled the largest percentage increase in loan default rates since the Education Department began tracking them in 1987.
Students from the three major sectors -- public, for-profit, and private non-profit universities -- suffered increased rates of student loan default, but the biggest increase was in the number of defaults involving borrowers from for-profit colleges, who make up about 12 percent of all undergraduate students.
The 2009 default rates are expected to represent a high-water mark; the economy was at its worst then. Rates are expected to drop as the economy picks up speed.
But this anticipated rate drop doesn't change the fact that thousands of students are struggling under enormous debt burdens. Rather than placing the blame on one type of university -- for-profits, for example -- the government should sponsor more initiatives to ensure that graduates from all sectors of higher education can find quality jobs. For default rates among public-university graduates have also increased dramatically, a fact that points to a larger, systematic problem. To lay the blame solely on the for-profits is to overlook the current challenges that all university students face.