This annual report explores the options available for holding colleges accountable for excessive student loan debt.

Key points

  • Colleges that leave their students with excessive student loan debt relative to post-graduation earnings are not being held accountable.
  • The only federal accountability metric, the cohort default rate, is extremely lenient and is rapidly becoming obsolete due to income-driven repayment programs.
  • Federal and state policymakers should introduce new accountability metrics to hold colleges accountable. Debt as a percent of earnings and gainful employment equivalent are two promising options.
  • Less than one out of every five college programs would face sanctions under our recommended accountability systems.