Thank you for visiting the page of the Chief Economist, led by Deputy Under Secretary Jordan Matsudaira. Reporting directly to the Under Secretary, the Office of the Chief Economist provides analysis and advice to guide real-time higher education policy while building a culture of experimentation, including partnerships with leading social science researchers to pilot-test new ways to serve students and borrowers. As the first Chief Economist within the Department of Education, Dr. Matsudaira and his team serve as a liaison to the research community so that leading researchers’ insights and evidence inform our agenda and we can work together to build the evidence and research base on how best to strengthen education.
Increases in graduate school attendance and falling undergraduate enrollment mean that graduate student borrowing now accounts for just under half of federal student loan disbursements. This report is the first in a series of OCE reports on graduate student borrowing, providing background in enrollment and degree attainment. These trends connect to several changes in the federal loan portfolio, including the rise in high-balance borrowers, a higher prevalence of student debt among older borrowers, and gaps in debt levels across borrower demographic groups. This report highlights the labor market returns associated with graduate education, but also documents a concerning disconnect between borrowing levels and students’ earnings outcomes.