CIC Releases Updated ‘Student Debt Myths and Facts’ Research

Student debt and college affordability have been hot debate issues in the 2016 presidential election season and remain at the forefront of worries by prospective students and their families. To inform a similarly contentious climate with data, CIC first developed in 2012 a fact sheet on college costs and student debt intended to counter false and misleading media coverage.

This August, CIC issued an update to its original research that relies on the most recent data available on student debt and college costs. This release updates two resources:
  • The popular “Student Debt: Myths and Facts” presentation designed for member institutions to use and to share with a range of audiences; and
  • “Reframing Student Debt Totals” information that explains the role graduate education plays in the student debt conversation.
One prevailing myth fueled by sensationalist media coverage is that many students owe more than $100,000 when they graduate. In actuality, in 2014 only 4 percent of all borrowers owed $100,000 or more in student debt. And the average debt level of a bachelor’s degree recipient at private colleges and universities was $19,300—less than the price of a modest automobile, at the same level as in 2006–2007, and a slight decrease from the previous year. Meanwhile, debt at public institutions continues to rise (see figure).

“The myths and misinformation about student debt and college costs continue to circulate widely in the media and present a persistent and inaccurate picture of the debt levels of students who graduate from independent colleges,” CIC President Richard Ekman said. “Correct information is urgently needed to inform public discourse and reassure students and their parents about the value of an independent college education. We are excited to be able to make that information available again.”

View more myths and facts regarding student debt and further explanation of graduate student debt.

Bar chart: College Doesn't Have to Break the Bank - Average total student loan debt per Bachelor's degree recipient