The Student Borrower Protection Center, an advocacy organization focused on student debt, published a report Thursday which examines the levels of institutional debt accumulated by California students during the pandemic.
The center estimates that 373,025 students in California’s public higher education systems have incurred approximately $195 million in debt to their colleges and universities each year since the pandemic began, a total of $390 million from 2020 to 2022. Calculations are based on data from four California universities. campuses, three community college districts, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers Financial Services Benchmarking Survey.
The report details the “lasting negative consequences” such debts can have for low-income students if colleges and universities prevent them from enrolling due to outstanding balances. It also offers recommendations for California policymakers, including allocating one-time public funds to the state’s public colleges and universities to cover institutional debts accrued during the pandemic, ensuring that students’ institutional debts cannot end up between the hands of debt to profit. collectors and ensure that students with outstanding balances can enroll in classes.
“Because debts to public colleges and universities prevent re-enrollment, can damage students’ credit histories, and of course create the potentially lingering obligation to repay, reducing or eliminating the impact of debt yields significant benefits,” the report reads.