The Need for More Student Loan Research
With nearly five million borrowers in default on their student loans, it is clear that the policies surrounding educational finance need improvement. When student debt levels increase, it has major effects on the overall economy. If policies don’t change, the student loan crisis has the potential to negatively impact the economy in years to come.
In recent years, proposals for student loan policy have been based primarily on preconceived notions and assumptions. In order to make informed decisions, policymakers need data about student loan balances and repayment. But this data is not always readily available.
With the rise of Big Data, industries across the board are being transformed by new information and insights. However, characteristics of the student loan market have made it difficult to study in the same way. In many cases, details about student loans and repayment are not made public. As a result, it can be difficult for policymakers to see the full picture of what is happening.
Even when student loan research is available, it’s often outdated. With rapidly changing education costs and repayment methods, findings from five or ten years ago may not hold true today. When policy decisions are made based on outdated information, they may actually worsen the problems they intend to solve.
We’ve had the opportunity to interview pioneers in student loan research, such as William Mann, Mahyar Kargar, and Constantine Yannelis. While all of these researchers have made important discoveries in the educational finance space, they have also run into more unanswered questions. If the government wants to tackle the student loan crisis effectively, it is clear that more research is needed.