Student loan default rates: 5 trends to track

States in the Northeast and Midwest tended to have lower student loan default rates
By: | October 6, 2020
GettyImages/Peter Dazeley

The national student loan default rate dropped to 9.7% in 2017 from 10.1% in the latest available figures included in a report released Tuesday.

Using U.S. Department of Education data, LendEDU’s second annual student loan default rate report identified the following trends in tracking default rates at 4,500 colleges:

1. For-profit institutions had the highest collective student loan default rate (14.7%), followed by public institutions (9.3%), and private institutions (6.7%).

2. Native American colleges had the highest student loan default rate (19.73%), followed by historically Black colleges and universities (16.65%), ethnically not reported colleges (9.18%), and Hispanic Colleges (8.68%).


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3. Massachusetts had the lowest default rate (5.83%), followed by Vermont (6.19%), North Dakota (6.30%), California (6.40%), and Utah (6.60%).

4. Mississippi had the highest student loan default rate (15.19%) and was closely followed by Oklahoma (15.15%), Louisiana (14.91%), New Mexico (13.66%), and West Virginia (12.96%).

5. States in the Northeast and Midwest tended to have lower default rates, while states in the South had the highest.

The report also notes a handful of institutions in danger of losing access to Pell Grants and other federal funding due to student loan default rates above 30% for the three years in a row.