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Default risk and private student loans: Implications for higher education policies

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  • Ionescu, Felicia
  • Simpson, Nicole

Abstract

In recent years, the proportion of students facing a binding constraint on government student loans has grown. This has led to substantially increased use of private loans as a supplementary source of finance for households׳ higher education investment. A critical aspect of the private market for student loans is that loan terms must reflect students׳ risk of default. College investment will therefore differ from a world in which government student loans, whose terms are not sensitive to credit risk, are expanded to no longer bind. Moreover, beyond simply crowding out private lending, expansions of the government student loan program will feed back into default risk on private loans. The goal of this paper is to provide a quantitative assessment of the likely effects of the private market for student loans on college enrollment. We build a model of college investment that reflects uninsured idiosyncratic risk and a well-defined life-cycle that is consistent with observed borrowing and default behavior across family income and college preparedness. We find that higher government borrowing limits increase college investment but lead to more default in the private market for student loans, while tuition subsides increase college investment and reduce default rates in the private market. Consequently, higher limits on government student loans have small negative welfare effects, while tuition subsidies increase aggregate welfare.

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  • Ionescu, Felicia & Simpson, Nicole, 2016. "Default risk and private student loans: Implications for higher education policies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 119-147.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:64:y:2016:i:c:p:119-147
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jedc.2015.12.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Giovanni L. Violante, 2013. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1887, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    2. Judith M. Delaney & Paul J. Devereux, 2019. "More Education, Less Volatility? The Effect of Education on Earnings Volatility over the Life Cycle," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 101-137.
    3. Athreya, Kartik B. & Ionescu, Felicia & Neelakantan, Urvi & Vidangos, Ivan, 2019. "Who Values Access to College?," Working Paper 19-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    4. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2013. "On the Optimal Provision of Social Insurance," MEA discussion paper series 201302, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    College investment; Credit risk; Student loans; Default;

    JEL classification:

    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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