Student loan statistics vary from state to state in America, but it turns out that they can also differ considerably between districts within states. New research from LendEDU depicts the student loan situation on a congressional district level, allowing for an in-state comparison for metrics such as average debt per borrower and default rate.
Take California as one example. The new research shows that student loan borrowers in Southern California are having a much tougher time dealing with their debt than their counterparts in Northern California.
There are plenty of factors that affect student debt from one region to another. Two of the most widely recognized factors are tuition cost and the cost of attendance in general. Recent rises in tuition have caused senators and representatives to take action for their states and districts, respectively. The actions taken by congressmen and congresswomen in California have shed insight on their districts’ student loan situations.
Take Rep. Stephen Knight of California District 25 in Southern California, for example. He represents borrowers that owe $37,642 on average – much higher than the national average of $28,400. Additionally, 81 percent of District 25’s students graduate with student debt compared to the average of 60 percent throughout the nation. Knight isn’t solely to blame for his district’s problem, but he hasn’t done too much when it comes to student loan debt. His track record doesn’t show him backing any reform or legislation, possibly because of the fact that none of his committee assignments are associated with college affordability.
Rep. Edward Royce, the Republican from District 39 in Southern California, on the other hand, has backed several helpful initiatives such as lower interest rates and tax breaks. His borrowers, though, are still struggling with an average student debt balance of $34,944, also higher than the national average. Furthermore, 70 percent of college students receive student loans. Interestingly enough, both districts have default rates that are below 6 percent which is less than half the national rate.
The northern part of California has its fair share of districts with high student loan debt, but there are many with debt below the national average too. All are in Democrat-held districts. Consider District 9, led by Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney. Borrowers from this district have an average debt of $18,619, well below the national average, and only 40 percent of graduates have student debt. Rep. McNerney has supported nearly all of the prominent college affordability initiatives in Congress over the past decade.
Similarly, Rep. John Garamendi, also a Democrat, stands shoulder to shoulder with Rep. McNereny on supporting student loan reforms and also oversees a district with much lower student debt than the national average. Garamendi’s District 3 of Northern California has an average student debt per borrower of $19,588 with 56 percent of graduates having at least one student loan. The default rate is very low in District 3 and District 9, coming in at 2.6 percent and 2.06 percent, respectively.
The student debt differences between states depict an interesting story. Nationally, states with 2 Republican senators generally have higher student loan default rates and lower average student debt while Democratic states have lower default rates and higher debt. The differences on a congressional district basis are much grittier and show different trends. The Republican districts in Southern California generally have higher student loan debt and default rates than their Northern Democratic counterparts. Despite this, there are still outliers.
Republican districts in Southern California aren’t solely to blame for the higher student debt in Southern California as compared to Northern California. There are also Democratic districts with above average student debt. Judy Chu, the Democrat Representative from District 27, is one example. She oversees an area with an above average student loan debt of $34,176. Chu has supported nearly all of the recent major college affordability initiatives that would have affected her residents. Chu is a huge supporter of Pell Grants and even calls for them to be funded by federal mandate which is unique. Her student borrower default at a rate of 5.17 percent.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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