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The State of Student Debt

From pre-K to Ph.D., our right to learn, grow, and thrive is based on how big we dream and how hard we work. But the astronomical cost of higher education—even public higher education—forces many students to either forego their education or be trapped in a lifetime of debt.

NO MATTER WHO WE ARE OR HOW BIG OUR BANK ACCOUNTS, WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO LEARN WITHOUT LIMITS.

The July 2021 “Student Loan Debt Among Educators: A National Crisis” report presents the results of a 2020 NEA survey of educators working in pre-K–12 and higher education institutions. This research shows how student debt affects educators—financially and emotionally—and includes specific data for educators of different ages and races.

Read the full report

STUDENT LOAN DATA BASED ON EDUCATOR GROUP

While student loans play a significant role in the financial lives of many educators, they have disproportionate impacts on certain types of education employees. Click on the links below to dive deeper into the impact of the crisis on specific educator groups.

Pre-K–12 Teachers and Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP)

A majority (83%) of pre-K–12 teachers and SISP with student loans reported that this debt has had at least one negative financial or emotional impact.
ESp Day

Pre-K–12 Educator Support Professionals (ESPs)

Almost one-third (29%) of pre-K–12 ESPs took out student loans to help pay for their own education.
women faculty pay gap

Higher Education Faculty

Almost half (46%) of the 48 percent of higher education faculty who borrowed for college still have a balance, which means that 22 percent of all higher education faculty are currently saddled with student loan debt.
A teacher looks over papers at her desk in an empty classroom

Higher Education ESPs

More than half of higher education ESPs with unpaid loans had difficulty building up emergency savings or saving for retirement because of their student loans.

EXPERT BRIEFINGS

Our student debt experts host regular briefings to explore breaking news and share ways to take action on a national, local, and personal level to ensure everyone can access affordable higher education.

Cancel student debt sign outside U.S. White House

Navigate your student debt

The US Department of Education has announced they are overhauling the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The changes to PSLF will exist only until October 31, 2022. For more information, visit our page on individual student debt support.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.