The Student Loan Bubble In 19 Simple Charts

Tyler Durden's picture

A picture paints a thousand words but in the case of the world of college education (and its surrounding income, unemployment, debt burden, and pricing implications), we decided 19 charts was the simplest way to explain the path to debt servitude that an increasing share of the US population is taking - despite record delinquencies, falling real incomes for graduates, stagnant graduate employment, and rising college costs. As BofAML notes, the cost of higher education has continued to climb, fueled by debt and government aid. Over the past twenty years, tuition growth exceeded the average rate of inflation by nearly 3% annually, while both grant aid and Federal loans per full-time undergraduate exceeded by about 5% annually. This trend is not sustainable, in our view. The challenging labor market, which has left the youth population underemployed and underpaid, has put the spotlight on the burden of student debt. We expect a correction in the price of tuition and reduction in debt. There will likely be lasting effects on the economy from the high cost of education and large debt burden. Graduating during a recession leads to permanently lower earnings growth, making it that much harder to service the debt burden.


Enrollment in college has never been higher...


Which appears to have spurred a post-Lehman jump in Federal Aid and Loans...


And sure enough - Student debt has taken over the 'debt' lead from credit card and auto debt...


And as with every credit-fueled bubble - this has inflated the price of the good or service...


But has NOT benefited the 'student' in reality as real income of college grads has fallen just as fast as high school grads since 2007...


...though over a longer period - an extended academic career has paid off (so more college and more debt is better?)...


of course, corporations have been quick to recognize the money flow and degree granting institutions have risen dramatically...


and the money flows to best ranked schools - which incentivizes raising fees in a 'Prisoner's dilemma' world... (dominant strategy is to raise tuition - as indicated by the green arrows)


So while firms are doing well, the 'product' they are selling is not helping as employment remains low for 20-24 year olds...


and young adults are increasingly leaving the workforce in a hurry...


or taking part-time jobs...


leaving the burden back on the parents...


but the jobs that are expected to grow are the low-paying jobs...


But what will change after the election - especially for the for-profit education companies...


As the government provides an increasing share of the massive student loan market...


leaving the student burdened with government loans...


as even the lowest income grads are getting assistance in record amounts via Pell Grants...


but delinquencies are rising...


at record rates...


There will likely be lasting effects on the economy from the high cost of education and large debt burden. About 68% of students in private four-year schools have taken on debt, 60% in public four-year and nearly 85% in for-profit four-year. The average debt for an undergraduate upon graduation is $25,000; more than half of the average starting salary. Underutilization in the labor market and high student debt has delayed life decisions such as household formation and discouraged new credit creation. Graduating during a recession leads to permanently lower earnings growth, making it that much harder to service the debt burden.


Source: BofAML

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riphowardkatz's picture

Long tatoo parlors.

Debtonation's picture

Don't forget your free Obama Phone courtesy of President Obama!

And the free Obama internet while your at it!

GetZeeGold's picture



Tommy. get on your Obama phone and get a job.


Now pay off your hard is that to understand?

Joshua_D's picture

Don't be silly, GZG.

Tommy, borrow some money from your parents if you have to and pay off that student loan. How hard can that be?

AldousHuxley's picture

idle young, super wealthy old


America is primed for either invasion by foreign powers or destruction within.


more debt = more power to those with capital


young almost never have capital.

LULZBank's picture

Food stamps... free mobile and internet for online dating and porns. What more can you want!!!

Temporalist's picture

I watch porn while standing on line in for welfare.  I love Obomba.

greyghost's picture

the only chart of the day i want to see! when the 50dma crosses over the 200dma on the $silver chart...oh yea!

magpie's picture

Lame and uncool, why no ObamaIphones or Opads ?

derek_vineyard's picture

pot prices are dropping as increased competition due to mass influx of semi-illegal college educated pot farmers can only find meaningful employment in this industry

NooooB's picture

You know? That doesn't really bother me considering the way the cellphone and internet providers run their monopolies.. I isn't until you get cell service in another country that you realize how the American consumer is getting screwed. It also surprises me that more american households don't share internet connections. From my computer I can see at least three of my neighbors wireless at decent signal strength. If we shared, our internet bill would be $10/month...

What does bother me about it now that I think, is that there are probably Govt subsidies paid to the cell/cable companies @ their normal rates. Instead of the Govt just saying "It's our bandwith. We're paying you so much for the infrastructure and that's it.."

Not trolling on purpose I promise... Just my thoughts..... Let the downvotes commence!

slaughterer's picture

The student loan bubble is no secret.  The best way to trade it is however a secret.

LULZBank's picture

I'm sure you will share it with your ZH brothers.

urbanelf's picture

Long tatoo parlors, short books pair trade.

Rainman's picture

Long scooters, bicycles and trailer parks.

otto skorzeny's picture

Long hot college chicks getting into porn to make $

libertus's picture

Here is a good article that talks about the social implication of the bubble.

It warned about this issue and told people to prepare. They just did not listen and now the whole system is about to crumble. 



LMAOLORI's picture



Upside not to worry according to Forbes the U.S. can't default (sarc).  Downside they will just make you and your children into even bigger debt slaves to bail out the rest of the loans (not covered in the obama student loan forgiveness program) for the votes


It Is Impossible For The US To Default


Obama Student Loan Forgiveness



BrigstockBoy's picture

"I've never let school interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

becky quick and her beautiful mouth's picture

eminence front, it's a put on.

foodstampbarry's picture

shares crash, hopes are dashed

people forget

forget their hiding.


...que Entwistle's bass

slaughterer's picture

OT: seems like EUR/USD has not made its bottom yet.  

Aegelis's picture

As a life-long debt slave to my education, I'm sad to see that soon I'll no longer be in the minority.

ebworthen's picture

Don't let anyone tell you that State Colleges and Universities are not "for profit" companies.

MachoMan's picture

It's a term of art...  it simply means that retained earnings are handled a bit differently...  and upon its eventual liquidation, that's handled a bit differently too.

However, during its operation, its employees and handlers can pull every last dollar out of it just the same as its "for profit" counterpart.  I honestly think many, many more nonprofits will be created in the future to take advantage of quite a few glaring inadequacies in the law and law enforcement.

DUNTHAT's picture


yogibear's picture

Government aid is helping universities to raise prices. The tuitions have become outrageous. 

Banksters keep making irresponsible loans to students who cannot pay them back because they know it's government backed.

Time for universities to cut expenses big time because the marketplace will do it for them.

People cannot afford further tuition increases. It's gonna bust! A four year state education on campus is already over $100,000. Average was 5 years. 

NumNutt's picture

Great, looks like the USA will be able to claim that we have the most highly educated McDonalds employees of the free world.

adr's picture

I graduated in 2000 with a computer science and design degree from a major institution. Putting that on my resume is still a giant blackball. 90% of my graduating class lost thier job within one year of graduation and the majority of us did not get another job  outside of part time work for a few years while the economy recovered.

In my industry a year out of the workforce may have well been a decade. When hiring started again companies wanted to hire new graduates over the 2000 class, because the new graduates would not only work cheaper, but were more up to date with newer software.

There really is no reason to go to college anymore unless you have connections that can land you a job after you graduate. If you have the connections, you probably don't need to learn a thing in college to get that job. So college will be an endless party. This makes sure the least deserving continue to be handed everything at the expense of those who work hard.

HoofHearted's picture

You do have to learn your stuff someplace and be able to complete tasks. But you don't neceessarily need a piece of paper that says you went someplace four years (or more) to learn said stuff. I've spent the last four weeks taunting my classes, telling them they need to consider whether they really need to understand the calculus or not. I ask them to constantly be thinking "Who gives a damn?" and to voice the question often. Then, we actually get someplace. Sure, I lost a quarter of the class already. See...someone with a whole stack of degrees actually does think every once in a while. (I also teach some game theory...)

Besides an inflated student body, we have a lot of dead wood on the faculty. Yes, Krugman, I'm looking at you.

lynnybee's picture

this is the biggest bunch of bullshit crap that's ever been perpetrated on the youth of this country, deliberately the banks suckered & swindled them into debt with the lure of easy money.   indebt countries, indebt companies, indebt families, indebt youth.   walk away from this bullshit & fight back against this deliberate debt slavery.   so, that is all we really are, real people to extract wealth from & enrich these s.o.b.'s.    banks now disgust me.

dwdollar's picture

Don't forget public schools... they hammer college into their heads beginning on the first day of middle school and don't relent until the last day of high school.

Rainman's picture

no wonder I can't find a competent plumber !

SamAdams1234's picture

Goldman Sacks vocational training schools took up the vocational training 'slack.'

kall's picture

Good point! I actually don't think we needed 19 charts to see the situation explained, I think one chart would have been enough, we all live in the same economic times, we're aware with the student loan related disasters. My kid is already setting a life purpose that doesn't involve any type of loan, I don't blame him...

Chump's picture

Gonna be lots of 20-24 year olds with nothing to do when the riots start, and nothing to lose.

Totentänzerlied's picture

Indeed! We youth are civic-minded, politically competent, and passionate about --- oops Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Season 2 Season Premiere is on (followed by all new Dancing with The Stars: All Stars), I'm out y'all!

--Sent from my iPhone5

--Like this on Facebook

r3phl0x's picture

I predict at least a 1:1000 drone:student kill ratio.

Village Smithy's picture

A lot of work went into this excellent slidedeck, thank you. Young people are adjusting to this unfortunate new reality. They are lowering their expectations and their desire to consume. They are hooked on their smartphones, yes, but that is about it. Sorry Wall Street, you've killed the goose.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Take out a student loan and buy physical gold and silver with the money; that's a good way to begin real education...

MachoMan's picture

In how prison works?  (student loan fraud)

“Rebellion to tyranny is obedience to God.”-ThomasJefferson's picture

Historically, when the 18-25 year old male unemployment level creeps up into the mid 20's, the banksters/crony capitalists/political whores start a war and try to kill off a good percentage of these hapless victims.

Now, the USA, with a volunteer fighting force of Phllipinos, Central Americans, and a sparse assortment of American citizens, along with some very heavy handed use of weaponized drones; our "esteemed" leaders are going to have to figure a new way to kill off a shitload of our unemployed young men here, and throughout the world.

My guess is in the coming months, some government laboratory will dream up something diabolical, and tens, if not hundreds, of millions world wide will die off because of some unknown and incurable virus.


slaughterer's picture

The institutionally-analyzed and recommended selective QE3 trade is still on: we are observing rotation into all the "quality" QE3 assets even today.  AAPL is not one of them.    

57-71's picture

See now here is where the government and education systems brainwashing really shines.

Get these young people to pony up borrowed $$ for something that is rapidly becoming redundant.

The alternative (which learning institutions rarely acknowledge) is the always highly sought after mechanical trades - specifically electrical, instrumentation, mechanic, millwright, welder fabricator. There will always be a need to repair equipment.

The real rub? People get paid for the training. After 4 or 5 years of training and practical experience, complemented by progressive increases in pay, the student has earned many times over what his peer has in educational debt.

And, the pay rate for the occupations is more than most degreed people earn for many years.

As an example, a qualified diesel mechanic or electrician willing to work a few years in harsh remote environments, and overtime hours, can easily pull in $225,000p/a.



GeezerGeek's picture

Train to be a blacksmith. There aren't many left, and sooner or later making horseshoes and swords by hand will be back in demand. Alternatively, become an armorer/gunsmith. Same logic.

Thisson's picture

Not many twenty-somethings want to repair excavation equipment in the artic circle.  Nor should they.

The kids should be getting an education, but the price is wrong.  Get government credit out of the equation, and a college education shouldn't cost more than about $20,000.  It should actually cost much LESS because all the texts and lectures should be available online, similar to how Khan Academy does it.

57-71's picture

And then what?

40k p/a to input data? Or sell Obama phones?

EvlTheCat's picture

Tyler Friday chart porn, bitchez!