Visualizing Student Debt

3 Year Student Loan Default Rates

Using Processing, I visualized the three year student loan default rates in a simple bar graph. Scroll over the bars to highlight the percentage of students who defaulted within three years of leaving school (through graduation, dropping out or transferring). Scroll over the type of institution to view the average amount of student debt. The average debt of proprietary school students is not clear, which is why it says "zero". 


Mapping Student Debt Complaints

This time-lapse map tracks the increase in student loan complaints filed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau between March 2012 and April 2014. Over 6,000 borrowers filed complaints stating they had a problem repaying loans. Other complaints included dealing with lenders (just under 800) and getting a loan (around 200).

This map shows that most complaints are filed in June and July, which is not surprising since students have recently graduated and are likely starting to plan loan repayment. The number of complaints slow until June of the following year. Although this dataset doesn't cover many years, I assume this is a general pattern of complaints filing. The big change comes in 2013. After the summer, instead of slowing down the complaints increase. In early 2014, many more complaints were filed than during the same months of the previous two years.

My hypothesis is that this increase in complaints comes from the media's increased attention on student debt, the development of advocacy groups and the implementation of new policies. The issue has become a part of our national consciousness, and as a result I am focusing my thesis on student lending. Out Loan provides better resources to the millions of indebted Americans who struggle to repay their student loans.

Data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau