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A research project investigating financial, workforce, and geospatial behavior of young adults with student debt
2020-2021

Millennial Student Debt




Introduction

The Millennial Student Debt study aims to present a country-wide analysis and visualization of student debt and its relationship with demographic characteristics, school characteristics and labor market characteristics, and how these relationships have changed over the past decade.

The project name refers to the key focus of our study–student debt, in its many forms, sizes and payment schemes–but we are especially interested in the decisions leading up to and following debt take-up. These decisions include, for example, things that affect a person’s student debt load, like demographic characteristics, location, degree pursued, school attended; we also examine how this particular type of debt shapes individuals’ repayment behavior on other debt types, status and mobility in the labor market (such as those statistics from ADP’s Workforce Vitality Report), and social decisions like when to marry and where to live.

Additional research on the effects of institutional concentration on net tuition costs, as well as the relationship between federal/state funding and workforce trends, complement and contextualize our research on student debt. The research and findings are particularly relevant during this election season as student debt is featured prominently as a major policy issue.

Project leads: Laura Beamer, Marshall Steinbaum, Francis Tseng, and Eduard Nilaj.

Contact us about this project: jfi@jainfamilyinstitute.org


Part 1

Unequal and Uneven: The Geography of Higher Education Access

View the full post on the Phenomenal World here.

View the interactive map here.

View the press release here.


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Part 2

Declining Access, Rising Cost: The Geography of Higher Education Post-2008

View the full post on the Phenomenal World here.

View the interactive map here.

View our news writeup with key takeaways here.


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Part 3

Unceasing Debt, Disparate Burdens: Student Debt and Young America

View the full post on the Phenomenal World here.

View the interactive map here.

View the press release here.


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Part 3.5

Congressional Overlay

Immediately following the September 2020 release of Part 3, “Unceasing Debt, Disparate Burdens: Student Debt and Young America,” the research team published an interactive map of congressional-level student debt trends from 2009 to 2019.

View the interactive map here. Click the toggle at top right to view the congressional overlay.

View the press release here.


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Part 4

The Student Debt Crisis Is a Crisis of (Non-)Repayment

View the full post, by JFI senior fellow Marshall Steinbaum, on the Phenomenal World here.

View the press release here.


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Part 5

Student Debt and Young America Annual Report and Comparison Tool

View the full report as an interactive web page here, and as a downloadable PDF here.

Explore the Millennial Student Debt - Comparison Tool, which allows for interactive comparisons of higher education and debt statistics for specific geographic areas at the national, state or congressional district level. Find a video tutorial for the tool here.

View the press release here.


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Position Post

Student loans, the racial wealth divide, and why we need full student debt cancellation

A position post by Andre M Perry of Brookings, Marshall Steinbaum of JFI, and Carl Romer of Brookings.

“The most frequent argument against cancelling student debt is that it would be regressive: Because student debtors have college educations, they are better off than those who ostensibly didn’t go to college. A variation on this claim is that higher-balance borrowers tend to have higher incomes. The former claim rests on a comparison of student debtors to those without student debt (and imputes incomes to each group), while the latter concerns comparisons between borrowers. Neither claim is factual.”

June 24, 2021. Cross-posted from Brookings Metro.


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