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Student Loans and Repayment: Theory, Evidence and Policy

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  • Lance Lochner
  • Alexander Monge-Naranjo

Abstract

Rising costs of and returns to college have led to sizeable increases in the demand for student loans in many countries. In the U.S., student loan default rates have also risen for recent cohorts as labor market uncertainty and debt levels have increased. We discuss these trends as well as recent evidence on the extent to which students are able to obtain enough credit for college and the extent to which they are able to repay their student debts after. We then discuss optimal student credit arrangements that balance three important objectives: (i) providing credit for students to access college and finance consumption while in school, (ii) providing insurance against uncertain adverse schooling or post-school labor market outcomes in the form of income-contingent repayments, and (iii) providing incentives for student borrowers to honor their loan obligations (in expectation) when information and commitment frictions are present. Specifically, we develop a two-period educational investment model with uncertainty and show how student loan contracts can be designed to optimally address incentive problems related to moral hazard, costly income verification, and limited commitment by the borrower. We also survey other research related to the optimal design of student loan contracts in imperfect markets. Finally, we characterize key features of efficient student loan programs that provide insurance while addressing information and commitment frictions in the market.

Suggested Citation

  • Lance Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2015. "Student Loans and Repayment: Theory, Evidence and Policy," NBER Working Papers 20849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20849
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    Cited by:

    1. Kemptner, Daniel & Tolan, Songül, 2018. "The role of time preferences in educational decision making," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 25-39.
    2. Martin Gervais & Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2019. "Life After Debt: Postgraduation Consequences Of Federal Student Loans," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 57(3), pages 1342-1366, July.
    3. Rong Hai & James Heckman, 2017. "Inequality in Human Capital and Endogenous Credit Constraints," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 25, pages 4-36, April.
    4. Looney, Adam & Yannelis, Constantine, 2019. "How useful are default rates? Borrowers with large balances and student loan repayment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 135-145.
    5. Naurin, Abida & Pourpourides, Panayiotis M., 2021. "On the Causality Between Household and Government Spending on Education: A Panel Analysis Across Countries," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2021/27, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    6. Radoslaw Paluszynski & Pei Cheng Yu, "undated". "Optimal Taxation with Risky Human Capital and Retirement Savings," Discussion Papers 2019-05, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    7. Abraham, Katharine G. & Filiz-Ozbay, Emel & Ozbay, Erkut Y. & Turner, Lesley J., 2020. "Framing effects, earnings expectations, and the design of student loan repayment schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    8. Asare Eric & Segarra Eduardo, 2017. "Explaining Individuals¡¯ Behavior towards Their Acquisition of Students¡¯ Loan in the US," Applied Economics and Finance, Redfame publishing, vol. 4(3), pages 102-110, May.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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