Student loan debt and defaults have been steadily rising, igniting public worry about the associated public and private risks. This has led to controversial regulatory attempts to curb defaults by holding colleges, particularly those in the for-profit sector, increasingly accountable for the student loan repayment behavior of their students. Such efforts endeavor to protect taxpayers against the misuse of public money used to encourage college enrollment and to safeguard students against potentially risky human capital investments. Recent policy proposals penalize colleges for students’ poor repayment performance, raising questions about institutions’ power to influence this behavior. Many of the schools at risk of not meeting student loan default measures also disproportionately enroll low-income, nontraditional, and financially independent students. Policy makers therefore face the challenge of promoting the efficient use of public funds and protecting students while also encouraging access to higher education.

You do not currently have access to this content.