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College Debt

As college costs continue to climb, families are turning to federal Parent Plus loans to fill the gap. But with no checks on their ability to repay, many parents are left overburdened, and others set up for failure. More »

The Department of Education has a model financial aid award letter. It's very different from what schools are actually sending. More »

The father, a gardener who earns $21,000, co-signed for his son's loans. Now, he can’t even find out who holds them. More »

Despite the changes to its student loan program to help borrowers who've become disabled, the government declined to include a key reform. More »

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Podcast: A Bailout Botched by Centrists

As Obama’s proxy, former Treasury Secretary Geithner shows us how an unwillingness to make sweeping change cost the administration a chance to reshape the financial landscape.

Q&A: Elizabeth Warren on Spiraling Student Debt and What Should Be Done About It

The professor-turned-lawmaker talks about why people should care and what Congress should be doing to help ease the burden on borrowers.

As Parents Struggle to Repay College Loans for Their Children, Taxpayers Also Stand to Lose

New Department of Education data shows rising default rates on federal loans to parents.

After Years of Troubles, Largest Student-Loan Servicers Get Stepped-up Oversight

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced increased oversight of the companies that act as go-between for student borrowers and lenders.

Discussion: How Can We Keep Public Universities Accessible?

Low-income students are being priced out of even public universities — due in part to how schools are using their financial aid. Join higher ed experts Thursday on Reddit to share your thoughts on how to keep college accessible.

Public Universities Ramp Up Aid for the Wealthy, Leaving the Poor Behind

Chasing prestige and battered by state funding cuts, many public colleges and universities with a historic responsibility to provide access to an affordable education have turned to "financial aid leveraging," offering wealthy or high-scoring students discounts on tuition.

Join Our Community On the Business of Higher Education

As college debt soars, we're turning our attention to the business of higher education. We've created a Facebook group for students, graduates, families and industry professionals to connect.

Families Shoulder Heftier Burdens as College Debt Swells

Student debt is putting a strain on students — and their parents. Meanwhile, federal programs to make student loans more affordable won't bring relief to all.

For Grieving Father Struggling With Dead Son’s Student Debt, Resolution Comes Four Years Late

A California gardener lost his son but was saddled with a crushing debt — and it was difficult even to learn who owned that debt. Four years later, he's finally reached a legal resolution.

Education Department Adopts Crucial Reform for Disabled Borrowers

After our investigation and public pressure, the department has conducted a sweeping overhaul of its troubled disability review program.

Another Way Student Loans Are Like Mortgages: Subpar Servicing

The companies handling private student loans — much like those handling mortgages — sometimes add to the frustration and even the debt load of struggling borrowers.

Have You Worked In Financial Aid or Student Loans?

As we continue reporting on college debt, perspectives from a range of industry professionals are key. If you've worked in admissions/financial aid, consulted with schools on these issues, or work for a lender or servicer, we want to hear from you.

Has Your Family Been Denied a Parent Plus Loan? Share Your Story With Us.

How Financial Aid Letters Often Leave Students Confused and Misinformed

The Department of Education has a model financial aid award letter. It's very different from what schools are actually sending.

Who Should Ensure Families Only Take On College Debt They Can Afford?

No Income? No Problem! How the Gov’t Is Saddling Parents with College Loans They Can’t Afford

As college costs continue to climb, families are turning to federal Parent Plus loans to fill the gap. But with no checks on their ability to repay, many parents are left overburdened, and others set up for failure.

Banks’ Lending Frenzy Left Borrowers Buried in Student Debt, Report Details

In the run-up to the financial crisis, banks and other lenders made risky private student loans. In the years since, default rates have soared and borrowers are still suffering.

Education Department Revamps Broken Disability Review Program

Despite the changes to its student loan program to help borrowers who've become disabled, the government declined to include a key reform.

Grieving Father Struggles to Pay Dead Son’s Student Loans

The father, a gardener who earns $21,000, co-signed for his son's loans. Now, he can’t even find out who holds them.

What Is Your Student Loan Story?

For the past year, ProPublica has been working to untangle the issue of college debt. Please help our reporting by sharing your experiences.

Student Loan Borrowers Dazed and Confused by Servicer Shuffle

A little-known legal provision forces the federal government to award contracts to qualifying nonprofit student loan servicers, putting them in charge of managing millions of loans. The shuffle has thus far caused problems for some borrowers.

While White House Emphasizes Easing Student Debt Burden, Fed Contractors Play Hardball

President Obama has touted efforts to ease the burdens of student borrowers with federal loans, but some federally contracted collection agencies neglect to lay out borrowers’ best options.

Education Department Backs Away From Fix to Help Disabled Student Borrowers

The Education Department had promised to fundamentally overhaul its broken system for forgiving the loans of former students who've become disabled. Now the department says it can't and won't do it, leaving many disabled applicants stuck in debt.

Disabled Former Cop in Student Loan Story Gets Her Debt Forgiven

Education Dept. Pledges to Overhaul Dysfunctional Disability Review Program

After a ProPublica investigation, the Education Department has promised to overhaul its broken system for forgiving the federal student loans of disabled borrowers.

The Reform for Disabled Borrowers That the Education Dept. Refuses to Adopt

The Education Department has resisted a basic reform to its troubled disability review that its own ombudsman has recommended since 2008 -- shut the program down entirely and rely on Social Security to decide who is eligible.

Education Department Bureaucracy Keeps Disabled Borrowers in Debt

Borrowers who become severely disabled are entitled to get federal student loans forgiven. But the program for deciding whether they qualify is opaque, dysfunctional, and according to government reports, redundant.

Contact Us

Blair Hickman, Community Manager
@amandablair
Blair.Hickman@propublica.org

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Have you worked in financial aid or student loans? Tell us about your experiences.

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