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Student Debt and Its Co-Occurrence with Other Types of Debt

Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2022-09
Neil Bennett and Michael D. King

Introduction

The total amount owed in federal student loans had grown to over $1.5 trillion by 2020. Despite substantial work by social scientists on the consequences of student debt, we know relatively little about student debt’s association with other types of household debt. Student loans may be negatively related to equity-generating debts such as mortgages and business loans, hindering opportunities, and positively related to non-equity-generating debts such as credit card and medical debt, resulting in additional burdens. Any heterogeneity in these relationships may lend context to persistent wealth inequalities between different sociodemographic groups. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we present a descriptive accounting of student loans and their connection to other types of debt.

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