Although student loan debt is still rising, recent data has shown that there is a slowdown. According to an article released by CNBC, the average debt per graduate rose only 1 percent in 2017 from the previous year. This is lower than the year over year average from 1996 to 2012 that was 4 percent. However, this doesn’t indicate that the student loan debt crisis is getting better. In fact, there are still real concerns regarding certain loan borrower groups.

Which Groups Are the Most at Risk?

As outlined in the above-mentioned article, there are certain loan borrower groups that are the most vulnerable. Those who graduate from college and come from low-income families “five times as likely to default on their loans than their higher income counterparts. One in five black college graduates defaulted within 12 years of entering college.”

Has the Status Quo Changed?

Currently, according to Student Loan Hero, $74.9 billion of direct loans are in default. This shakes out to 4.3 million borrowers who are currently in default with direct loans. These numbers exemplify that this crisis has not gone away.

However, this slowing trend was explained by James Kaval who is the president of The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). He attributes it to the fact that tuition rates have slowed down in terms of their overall cost while state spending on higher education has gone up.

Have Borrowing Habits Shifted?

What is currently happening now is a shift where parents are shouldering more debt. Loan borrowers are maxing out on their federal financial aid and typically still have more costs to cover. Parents have been stepping in to take on that burden with a 20 percent increase between 2011 and 2016. In terms of dollars, that is a rise from $27,000 to $33,000.

Even though private loans have fewer protections than federal loans, many loan borrowers are still going the private route. In fact, 15 percent of the student loan debt from 2017 was not federal. Many borrowers are doing so even before they have completely exhausted their federal aid options according to Kaval.

One of the things that we strive to do is educate the next generations of college students. In previous articles, we have outlined why everyone should take debt for college seriously. Things you should do include understanding what sort of return on your investment you will get for your degree. In that way, you can quickly justify taking on debt for a particular degree.

Moreover, you should also max out on all aid and scholarships that you can get before you even consider taking out a private loan. Private loans don’t have the same protections as federal loans, such as deferment or forbearance. Moreover, their interest rates can be more than double what federal loan interest rates are. The goal is to set yourself up for the most success after college, for if you overburden yourself with debt and cannot obtain a salary to handle payments post-graduation, it will lead to at a minimum a lot of stress and at worst financial disaster.