About 33% Of Students Drop Out Of College; Here's How Many Go On To Default On Their Student Debt

Tyler Durden's picture

Roughly 70% of America's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed high school seniors will go on to binge drink study at a 4-year college, but, to our complete shock, less than two-thirds of them will manage to graduate with a degree.  Even worse, 30% of the students will drop-out after just one year on campus.

Not surprisingly, a survey conducted recently by LendEDU found that college dropouts still manage to rack up an average of nearly $14,000 worth of student debt during their brief college careers and a staggering number of them go on to default on that debt in very short order.

LendEDU polled 1,000 respondents that had dropped-out of a four-year higher education institution and also held some amount of student loan debt. We wanted to find out how much student loan debt they owed when the walked away from college.


Respondents were given the ability to enter in an exact dollar amount when asked how much student loan debt they held when they made the choice to drop-out of school. After averaging together all 1,000 responses, we found that when the average college dropout finally gave up on college, they owed $13,929.65 in student loan debt.


LendEDU pegs the average student loan debt per graduated borrower figure at $27,975, so the aforementioned debt per dropout amount makes good sense. Under the assumption that most dropouts leave campus by the end of their second year, the debt per dropout figure is nearly half of the four-year debt per borrower figure of $27,975. That figure cut in half would equal $13,987.50, a tick above our debt per dropout figure of $13,929.65.

Nearly half of college dropouts interviewed by LendEDU admitted they're not currently making payments.

Even worse, just over 35% of the students interviewed said they hadn't made a single payment toward their student loans since dropping out of college...

...all of which resulted in nearly 50% of respondents saying they're currently in default on their student loans.

Asked why they dropped out of college, roughly one-third of students cited "financial reasons"...financial reasons that presumably get much worse after they drop out of school and ruin their credit by defaulting on their student loans.

The plurality of college dropouts, 35.30 percent, cited "financial reasons" as the main reason for leaving their respective college campuses. Trailing closely behind was "social/family reasons," which brought in 34 percent of the vote.


After those two options, there was a significant drop-off. ?12.90 percent of poll participants selected "other," while 11 percent cited "health reasons," and 5.40 percent dropped-out because of "academic reasons." Finally, "legal reasons" was an answer option selected by only 1.40 percent of the respondents polled.


Digging further, we asked the 353 respondents that cited "financial reasons" as the main cause for dropping out this question: "More specifically, did you drop out of college because you didn't want to borrow more student loan debt?"


Around three-fourths (74.79 pecent) of this sub-section of college dropouts responded "yes" to the question found above. Meanwhile, 25.21 percent of those who dropped-out because of financial troubles maintained that student loan debt had nothing to do with their monetary woes.

Of course, despite their lack of success their first time around, nearly two-thirds of college dropouts say they're considering a second attempt at earning a college degree.  Moreover, we're almost certain that their previous defaults will in no way hamper the appetite of banks that will be all too eager to throw even more taxpayer subsidized student loans at their "do-over" attempts...

About two-thirds, 64.30 percent, of the 1,000 college dropouts that participated in this poll intended on going back to college to finish up their degrees. Contrarily, 35.70 percent of the respondent poll stated they had no plans to enroll in classes again.


The fact that quite the clear majority of college dropouts with student debt are set on going back to colleges? speaks to both the regret in their original choices to drop-out and also the belief that a college degree will greatly aid in their ability to grow their future earning potentials.

...student loans that we're sure these dropouts will take despite reporting overwhelming "regret" for taking their initial round of loans.

Oh well, these students have to pay for those binge drinking trip to Cancun somehow...not going is simply not an option.

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Citxmech's picture

Most of these folks would've been better-off at a community college getting an AS or certificate in a trade.

FoggyWorld's picture

A good deal of the blame really resides in the hands of High School guidance counselors who don't seem to get into the details of what these loans entail.

And they presume college is for every kid and in today's world that just isn't true.

SafelyGraze's picture

"Even worse, 30% of the students will drop-out [sic] after just one year on campus"

this is brilliant logic and should have been extended to say:

even worse, 95% of the-students will drop-out before completing a post-doc

clearly, every state should set a target of 95% for its students to complete college, complete a phd, and complete a post-doc

because ... drop-out

the student loan association 

J S Bach's picture

Look folks, in days of yore, only the "top" 10% of humans in our country had the innate mental gifts to attain "higher" learning via college.  What we are witnessing today is nature's slow processional dirge of the unrealistic idea that every bipedal hominid can be a part of that 10%.  Most people are not capable of true "higher" education.  Only with the prosperity derived by the outcome of WWII were the "greatest generation" able to harbor the unrealistic that all of  their offspring were "collegiate" material.  That was the time the universities began their fallacious propaganda to draw every high school graduate into their waiting arms.  From that time on... standards of excellence, as well as the academic substance itself, deteriorated according to the mean of the human material at hand.

60 years later, we see the pathetic results with "graduates" struggling to not only pay off the usurious loans obtained to provide for their "enlightenment", but the inability to attain a job promised them for their efforts.

If people were given an honest appraisal of the playing field... along with their capabilities on it... 90% of them would be much better off realizing their natural roles as useful and satisfied citizens of their communities in any number of occupations.  And, they would not have all of this burdenous debt upon their shoulders.

I generalize... but, in essence this is true.

VZ58's picture

This! Nothing else to be said except that it is also a giant ponzi scheme to to keep mediocre profs and administrators employed. 

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

Your conclusion is based on a baroque premise.  The issue is not with the student but rather a systemic fraud based on profit rather than the betterment of mankind. I'd rather live in a community where all are exposed to continuous higher education thorough out their entire lives.  Their eventual employment shouldn't the main concern of "higher" learning.   Even a person with Downs Syndrome will benefit from education.  



Lore's picture

Practically speaking, the institutions you have in mind are primarily centers for profit and indoctrination.  Think about it.  Political correctness and Agenda 2030 propaganda abounds. Most grads are robots with a set of programs, not free thinkers.  To suggest otherwise should at least warrant a /sarc tag. 

Most young people are somewhat rudderless and benefit from guidance to support a reasonably rounded and structured approach to learning, but we don't need institutions for that any more than we need the Church for a private and discerning relationship with God. It's ironic that many institutions perceive their future as being largely internet-based, since the internet and free access to information spells their doom.

The trap is passivity. People forget that the best learning is active, independent, purpose-driven and results-oriented (e.g., specific to particular problems and contexts).  I say that as a person who drifted through three degrees with honors, wishing in retrospect that I could have those years back. Regurgitation and ego-stroking (and paying for the privilege) is a poor substitute for the knowledge and experience of the real world.  Perception of value gets turned upside down the moment you gain the ability to make your own critical value judgements. It's tremendously liberating, the most delicious moment in a thinking person's inner life.

Remarkably, for all their seeming dependence on technology, many millennials seem more alert than their parents to the trap of passive (programmatic) learning.  Their problem-solving is a pleasure to watch, with self-organizing groups, organic project planning and superior creativity.  I used to look on the shock and collapse to come with a sense of ultimate doom, but now I'm convinced that society on the other side will thrive if only the next generation can finally remove psychopaths from power and stay alert to bullshit. 

Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall

CrazyCooter's picture

Dude - this is the 100% straight up truth.

I have for years - decades ? - told people the story of a hay truck driver and hay buckers. One dude drives the truck, the other nine do the sweaty work of bucking hay. It is a RATIO - and at the end of the day - hard work has to be done and whoever is smart enough (or crotch fruit close enough to the tree) get to do the admin work.

The benefit is A/C and a lower back that isn't bad - and maybe a bit more pay - if you aren't an idiot.

What I see happening is everyone falling in love with the idea of being the hay truck driver, instead of the hay bucker - and thinking college is the hall pass that gets them there.

And university systems all over the US sell this hand over fist. So they sell these BULLSHIT degrees - with guaranteed money - at a HUGE risk to the borrower.

I am not a fan of Barry Hitholz, but he had an old post (seven years running now) that was stunning when I first saw it:


Infographic here:


My old man worked summers and paid for college - that doesn't work anymore (despite me explaining this to him - and he is a finance major). Old fuckers don't want to hear it.


Save them from what is coming.



PT's picture

If people have any brains then this problem will only last one generation.  Surely the parents who got fucked over won't be dumb enough to allow their own children to get fucked over.  Errrr, umm, that's the theory, anyway.

NoDebt's picture

Wait, wait, wait.  When I started college I was told to look at the people to my left and my right.  They said those people wouldn't be there a year later.

NOW you tell me that, in fact, one of those people is STILL there???  Fuck you, you fucking liars.  

Let me guess which one is still there.  The one of the LEFT.  Am I right?  You God damned well know I'm right.

(Yes, the entire previous paragraph is written that way on purpose.  I shouldn't have to tell you this, but I feel like I have to in case somebody wonders why it reads a little weird and clunky.)

AGuy's picture

"Most of these folks would've been better-off at a community college getting an AS or certificate in a trade."

I doubt public schools are providing an adquite education needed to succeed in college. Recall that Public schools have been dumbing down classes since parents complain when some students fail and thus dumb it down so all students get passing grades. C students get A+, D students get B+ and F students get C grades. When they graduate they lack the ability to take the college level classes. My understanding is that Colleges\Universities and followed and also dumbed down classes. When these kids graduate they are totally unprepared for the real world. They end up on low skill retail jobs since they can't function in a high tech business world.

Lore's picture

Quite right. I support a local program that has to deliver elementary English to first-year college students.  Most don't know the parts of speech or how to write a complete sentence.  They're clueless.  How then are they to communicate complex ideas and adapt quickly to a changing world? 

Slaves are poor communicators.  Good communication skills are essential for a free society. 

waspwench's picture

I really doubt the reasons these students are giving for dropping out.   My guess is 75% at least quit because they shouldn't have been there in the first place.   Their problems are academic.

As the old joke goes:  you can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.

Delving Eye's picture

--Dorothy Parker's quip. No joke.

waspwench's picture

Thanks.   I never knew where that came from.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Community colleges often offer a higher quality education for the GE and prep work. Smaller class sizes and more emphasis on teaching.

Those who complete CC (which has an even worse rate than Unis) are usually better prepared for upper division than their classmates.

FoggyWorld's picture

It was that not paying back any of the loans that brought about the very oppressive rules that came about because even when the loans were much lower, too many didn't repay whether they graduated or not.

wisehiney's picture

I am too tired to cite the exact studies.

But you can goog them easily.

Huge percentage of GRADS that are functionally illiterate.

Better off dropping out.

That way I - taxpayer - do not have to pay as much for their wasted student loans.

BandGap's picture


There are READING classes at the college level.

HRH Feant2's picture

Beginning reading? Phonics stuff? The stuff I learned when I was three?


BiteMeBO's picture

All are current on their iphone payments

dunce's picture

If you are white you get big debt. Blacks with athletic scholarships rartely drop out and  pay nothing back. Social justice???

divingengineer's picture

It’s a Broomstick Up The Ass life if you’re white.
Rapidly approaching the point of nothing to lose, they will never quit until they are kneeling in front of the ditch.
I guess it is unavoidable at this point.

umdesch4's picture

Try also being hetero and male. Then, all bets are off.

divingengineer's picture

Oh, well....you're fucking asking for it then. 

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

But how are those college professors bloated pensions and spa like amenities the students demand going to be paid?


StephenHopkins's picture

State universities are a waste of money. They’re high end reprogramming centers training kids to fall in line, follow instructions: but do not color outside of the lines or ask pesky questions about Tesla.

The elites are given outstanding educations limited to qualified applicants, by invitation.

Refuse-Resist's picture

Yeah, but the keg parties and the sluts man!

red1chief's picture

I wish these authors would quit telling us about avergae college loan debt, which will make the problem look bigger of course. I wish they'd be honest and use median numbers, which are more relevant. But then the Doom Porn may not get as many readers.

Delving Eye's picture

Are you kidding? I think $13k in loans for a dropout and $27k for a grad is incredibly low! I should know. I just finished paying off my daughter's school loan ($21k) and she commuted to a local state university (so no room and board to pay for). The tab for a more desirable 4-year college would be at or above $100k.

Refuse-Resist's picture

Where I live there are a number of small private colleges. The average tuition with room and board is $55k per year.

And they don't offer degrees like Chemical Engineering that have a high enough salary to possibly (?) justify such expense.

Imagine, if you will, going $220K in the hole for a BA in English or History.

That's a kind of stupid that I have trouble imagining and yet these schools exist and must be turning a profit.

Buster Cherry's picture

Every stupid kid that pulls this shit needs to be forced to have both legs broken and the parents that raised them be forced to nurse them back into the real world workforce. Like operating a lathe or being a plumber, electrician, welder, etc.

AGuy's picture

"Like operating a lathe or being a plumber, electrician, welder, etc."

Oh God No! They would break the lathe, Flood the building, start an electrical fire, structural integrity failure. You can't fix stupid!

I have a better idea: Send them to Liberal European nations with one way tickets with revoted US citizenships. Merkle will welcome them with open arms!

lester1's picture

1. Max out all your credit cards and take out as many loans as you can.

2. Buy Bitcoins

3. Make a fortune, far more that actually going to college!

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"". Max out all your credit cards and take out as many loans as you can.

2. Buy Bitcoins"

If you'd a done that in March, you would have made a fortune

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

The sun does not have to go to college because it already has 28 million degrees.

Montana Cowboy's picture

The solution is to claw the money back from the universities. Education has been financialized and racketized like so many other things in this world. It is pervasive failures like this that make a total collapse look better all the time. Just bring it on. I'm ready.

umdesch4's picture

All of this is making me feel better about my student loan situation. Back in the early 90s, I qualified for a loan in my last year, for about $7k. At least part of that year, I didn't starve, and could work slightly less than 40 hours a week during the last few months I went to school. Due to illegal bank shenanigans that lawyers told me I had a solid case against, but wouldn't be able to afford to prosecute, I ended up spending much of the rest of that decade paying back what ballooned into over $20k of repayments. (Almost 4 years of paying $500 a month...ugh!)

At least I'm clear of it, and I did get a computer science degree that probably helped me with a few of the jobs I've had in my career (the paper, not the learning).

I guess maybe us Gen X-ers are the last people who can say a degree was actually worth it.

umdesch4's picture

Funny thing...if I had qualified for a $7k line of credit, or a credit card at 19.99% interest, it would have been cheaper. Too bad all the institutions made sure those options weren't available to me.

Bernie Madolf's picture

I had a great time!

Academics is a fucking cake walk.

Played a lot of golf.

If you can't get passing grades with moderate effort...

You might be a redneck

Lore's picture

Quite right. Frequently, a passing grade comes with the price of admission. Students learn quickly to take the measure of their instructors and establish the bare minimum required to achieve the desired outcome. Most profs are very weak nellies, in the game for money and ego.  (See also: most doctors and scientists, not to mention career politicians.)

RussianSniper's picture

Go to junior college and attain an Associate Degree.
Proceed to a state school, preferably one that costs less than the premier school of the particular state; to receive a bachelor's degree.

Do not borrow the money.

Get a job and go to school....

Or simply learn a trade, apprentice, and become a carpenter, plumber, mechanic, or some trade where you can support yourself and add value to the world; rather than attain a degree in primitive cultures.

Northern Lights's picture

Agree with the fact that 30% drop out after first year.  Disagree on the other's.  Most of these students are lying.  The reason they dropped out was academic.

Understand that the dropping out doesn't end after first year.  This goes right to final year.

Blue Steel 309's picture

School is hard work, especially if you want to go into STEM. A lot of hard work. Many people are not prepared for that kind of responsibility where the only person to tell you to get to work is you.

JoeSoMD's picture

Yep re: prep.  In my EE program at a major state U, only about 20% of the students were American. Couldn't hack the math.  The department used a probability class to cull the unprepared.  Pretty sad because the American kids were probably the best prepared out of their US peer group.  It's a shame.

Refuse-Resist's picture

Yep. And even if you do it, there are no guarantees. The story posted on ZH recently about the number of jobs vs number of graduates. The numbers were dismal IMO.

NickPeeMe's picture

Without College dropouts who would vote for your beloved sex doll Donald Trump? MAGA....Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha

peippe's picture

if we only had 770,000 more embezzelers, 

you would be a happy 'Hillary Again' voter today!


PS I'll take two DT sex dolls over a hillary 'doll' any day of the week. : )

Clycntct's picture

A knife across the throat is the only cure for PD