With student debt beginning to receive serious attention in Wisconsin, basic information about “who borrows” and “how much” is critical to diagnosing and ultimately solving student debt problems. Accordingly, this post uses data from the United States Department of Education (ED)’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) to provide key information on federal student loans in Wisconsin.
FSA’s data include all federal loan borrowers with outstanding balances regardless of where they attended college, whether they graduated, or how long they have been in repayment. These data also measure the combined total principal and interest still owed and cannot be disaggregated by principal or interest. We find approximately 715,800 Wisconsin residents have federal student loan debt, accounting for about 23 percent of the state’s 3.1 million labor force participants. These borrowers owe a combined $23.1 billion in federal education loans, resulting in an average balance of $32,230, as shown below:
Future posts will dig into these issues and more. In this first post, our goal was to simply measure the number of borrowers and amount outstanding in the state to put Wisconsin into national and regional context. Subsequent posts will explore these statewide statistics in more detail and will examine differences in debt by individual colleges, metro regions, and counties.