Idaho’s student loan debt: $5.7 billion

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new round of numbers on federal student loan debt, and some of the raw figures are sobering:

  • Idaho’s student loan debt totaled $5.7 billion. By contrast, Idaho is putting $326.4 million in general fund money into its two- and four-year colleges in 2017-18.
  • Meanwhile, 198,000 Idahoans are carrying student loan debts — a number that roughly equals the population of Boise.

As staggering as these numbers are, however, Idaho’s student loan debt appears to be fairly much in line with the federal picture.

Idaho’s debt load ranks No. 39 in the nation, as does the number of Idahoans carrying loan debt. And according to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau projections, Idaho’s overall population ranks No. 39 nationally.

In September, Idaho’s higher education task force agreed on a series of recommendations to address the state’s stagnant college graduation rates.

The latest federal student loan numbers were released in late September, days after Gov. Butch Otter’s higher education task force finished up its recommendations designed to boost Idaho’s college graduation rates. Among the recommendations: Put more money into Idaho’s Opportunity Scholarship program, to allow more students to offset some of their college costs.

One final, sobering footnote from the feds’ data drop: On June 30, federal student loan debt totaled $1.34 trillion nationally.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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