Average student debt levels for the graduating 2012 class is up over historical debt levels. In these graphs from the Educational Policy Institute (which relies on data from the Project on Student Debt), one can see both the historical student debt trend as well as the current state of average debt levels for those graduates with debt. Average debt for graduates with debt, predictably, varies by sector:

  • Public: $25,550
  • Private: $32,300
  • Private For-Profit: $39,950

The rise in student debt, as well as the percentage of students who graduate with some debt (71%), is a common narrative in media about paying for college. However, the rise of income-based repayment is less often discussed.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of borrowers on income-based repayment and pay-as-you-earn programs doubled from .95 million to 1.9 million. It’s unclear for the reasons behind this jump. It may have something to do with the highly publicized jump in student loan rates in 2013. More likely, however, it may simply be that more individuals have become aware, either on their own, through the government or through their school, of the benefits of these types of loan repayment programs. After all, even middle and upper-class borrowers are often able to benefit from IBR and PAYE programs. In any case: this uptick indicates some relief for many regarding the burden of student loan repayment.