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Publication Date

May 2020


Allison Freeman, Jess Dorrance, Sarah Riley


Annie E. Casey Foundation

Recent estimates suggest that more than half (54%) of young adults who attend college take on some
form of debt in order to do so. Student loans represent the most common type of debt incurred and
are relied on by 93% of those with educational debt. Unfortunately, delinquency and default rates for
student loan debt can also be high and carry lasting negative effects for borrowers. However, there is
variation in delinquency and default rates observed across institutions, which raises the question of
what postsecondary institutions are or can be doing to improve student loan outcomes.

With the goal of exploring this topic, this report provides an overview of organizational practices and
innovative solutions being implemented by some of North Carolina’s two- and four-year educational
institutions, as well as by some institutions outside the state, aimed at reducing the likelihood of
student loan default. The reports draws on three main sources of information – academic literature,
interviews with administrators and other experts, and a scan of existing programs – to provide
examples of these efforts.

The findings indicate that common institutional approaches include the following: 1) providing information
to impact decision-making, 2) using subsidies and cost-sharing mechanisms to reduce costs and increase
affordability, and 3) developing integrated data-driven support systems to coordinate action campus-wide.

Topics(s): Debt & Credit, Economic Mobility, Financial Inclusion, Higher Education