'US Student Loans Cost the Government over $60B More to Service Than They Bring in a Year'

‘US Student Loans Cost the Government over $60B More to Service Than They Bring in a Year’


Student loans price the U.S. authorities extra to service than they convey in annually.


AdvertisementsOn October 21 2021 — towards a backdrop of a long-running nationwide dialogue about student debt — a tweet asserting that “US student loans cost the government over $60B more to service than they bring in a year” grew to become virally common:

Wait was no one going to inform me that US student loans price the federal government over $60B extra to service than they convey in a 12 months??? They may actually be cancelled this second and the gov would have *extra* cash

It learn:

Wait was no one going to inform me that US student loans price the federal government over $60B extra to service than they convey in a 12 months??? They may actually be cancelled this second and the gov would have *extra* cash

Screenshots of the tweet unfold on Facebook (and registered on Google Trends as common searches), however a model shared to Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter (titled “The cruelty is the point”) garnered important engagement:

The cruelty is the purpose from WhitePeopleTwitter

On the Reddit thread, one commenter expressed what gave the impression to be a preferred follow-up sentiment, as did somebody on Twitter:

Any probability that is actual?

@chaoticgaythey Did you save the supply for that? I can not discover something on it and I completely would love one thing to hyperlink that stated that to chuds and shit

Someone else responded to the remark, echoing the Twitter person’s reply to a request for a supply:

The 2020 fsa report beginning on web page 169

Or this useful chart on pg 48 with the reason paragraph which immediately exhibits even essentially the most beneficiant free faculty proposal put ahead by Sen. Sanders is cheaper than what we spend on this Rube Goldberg machine of financial struggling.

Edit – the U.S. by no means misses an opportunity to twirl its mustache in cartoon villainy on the working class. Of course it’s actual. Just just like the story of the Texas jail that spent a decade and $23k in authorized charges to maintain an inmate from getting a hypoallergenic blanket.

Complicating the dialogue throughout platforms was the truth that a particular doc — the “2020 fsa report starting on page 169” — was referenced, however sometimes linked. In situations the place the doc [PDF] was linked, the web page numbers printed on the doc itself didn’t immediately correspond with the PDF viewer’s numbering. (In the context of the supply materials, “FSA” was “Federal Student Aid.”)

That reference was additionally introduced in screenshot type:

That chart [Figure 22] appeared on web page 47 by the doc’s numbers, and web page 63 on the linked model. At the highest, a piece about “gross costs” highlighted by one other Twitter person appeared:

Statement of Net Cost

The Statement of Net Cost is the federal monetary assertion that presents the online price of operations for FSA packages. FSA’s internet price is the gross price incurred throughout its operations much less any alternate (i.e., earned) revenues earned from its actions. Gross price consists of the price of credit packages, grant packages, and working prices. Exchange revenues are primarily curiosity earned on credit program loans.

Underneath the chart [Figure 22], textual content learn:

As proven in Figure 22, FSA’s earned revenues (primarily curiosity and charge accruals internet of subsidy amortization) elevated from $34.2 billion in FY 2016 to $39.4 billion in FY 2020, an total enhance of 15.2 p.c or about 3.8 p.c yearly on common. By comparability, FSA’s gross prices fluctuated far more broadly over the identical interval, from $93.0 billion in FY 2016 to $171.2 billion in FY 2020, primarily as the results of subsidy-related transactions. As a end result, internet prices fluctuated additionally, most notably rising 22.0 p.c from $108.1 billion reported in FY 2019 to $131.8 billion in FY 2020. FSA’s complete prices exceeded its earned revenues in each years, however the margin was higher in FY 2020 by $23.7 billion, of which $39.4 billion was attributable to the Direct Loan Program, largely offset by the $10.6 billion lower in FFEL internet prices.

For the Direct Loan Program, the $39.4 billion enhance in internet prices was primarily the results of a rise in subsidy switch modifications ($39.6 billion). Similarly, the $10.6 billion lower in FFEL Program internet prices was principally the results of a $10.3 billion enhance in gross prices.

Both the FFEL and Direct Loans Programs are necessary packages whose prices are largely pushed by Federal borrowing prices, prevailing rates of interest, in-school curiosity advantages for debtors, the prices associated to borrower defaults, and loan quantity demand. The packages are funded by necessary and indefinite price range authority and due to this fact don’t obtain annual appropriations. For extra particulars concerning the inherent issue of estimating the influence of those advanced elements, please check with Note 5.

None of the discourse on both thread appeared to pinpoint the origin of the declare that U.S. student loans price greater than $60 billion extra to keep up than they convey in yearly. However, subtracting the italicized “$34.2 billion” in earned revenues in FY [fiscal year] 2016 from “gross costs … of $93.0 billion in FY 2016” yielded an identical and cheap to spherical up determine of $58.8 billion.


Were that the case, presumably the unique poster used figures from 2016 versus 2020 because of the atypical occasions of FY 2020 and its identified results on student loan prices and revenues. Subtracting the $39.4 billion in FSA earned revenues from FY 2020 from the FSA gross prices of $171.2 billion resulted in a distinction of $131.8 billion.

On web page 48 of the doc, a “Statement of Changes in Net Position” part additional defined the cited figures (with figures in parentheses being damaging sums):

The Statement of Changes in Net Position presents these quantities that precipitated the online place part of the Balance Sheet to alter from the start to the tip of the reporting interval and is affected by adjustments in its two parts, cumulative outcomes of operations and unexpended appropriations.

FSA’s internet place as of September 30, 2020, was damaging $19.4 billion, a rise of $25.5 billion in comparison with the earlier September 30 [FY 2019] internet place. The distinction displays a rise within the cumulative outcomes of operations by the quantity of $21.9 billion, from $(76.3) billion, to $(54.4) billion, of which $(8.0) billion of the rise associated to the Direct Loan Program and $(14.0) billion was attributable to the FFEL Program. In addition, unexpended appropriations elevated by $3.6 billion, of which $2.9 billion had been attributable to the mixed Perkins Loan and Grants Programs, with the $0.9 billion enhance in Direct Loan Program unexpended appropriations accounting for a lot of the remaining distinction.

So common was the tweet and screenshots of it that the dialogue spilled over to certainly one of Reddit’s stringently-monitored “ask” subreddits, r/AskEconomics:

How correct is the declare that student loans price the American govt extra to service than they convey in? from AskEconomics

One of the subreddit’s moderators (u/UpsideVII) responded to the query (making the uncommon distinction of indicating the doc’s web page numbers didn’t align with the PDF’s web page numbering system). In their response, u/UpsideVII acknowledged the identical concern we encountered — that nowhere within the doc or elsewhere may we find a agency determine for the price of servicing student loans:

Yea, backed student loans run at a internet loss for the federal government. That’s primarily the definition of backed.

For a legit supply, you possibly can see the 2020 Fiscal Year Annual Report for the FSA. There’s a pleasant chart of internet prices on web page 47 (pdf web page 63).

The tweet makes a specific claims the price of servicing are higher than the income. If this had been true, the assertion could be right.

But the tweet is misinterpreting the online price determine (which I imagine comes from the 2019 DLP heading on pdf web page 186) as the price of servicing loans.

The report doesn’t inform us something, so far as I can discover, about the price of servicing loans. So possibly it’s attainable it’s true (though based mostly on the numbers above it will require servicing prices to be greater than 1/3 the whole prices of creating a loan which appears wildly implausible). At the very least, the $60 billion quantity is definitively mistaken.

Finally, further commentary pointed to current information articles (from September 30 and October 6 2021, respectively), which reported {that a} third federal student loan servicer, Navient, deliberate to discontinue servicing federal student loans. The second of the 2 linked articles included a “key takeaway,” emphasised under:

Servicers say it’s arduous to make cash within the federal student loan enterprise, whereas some debtors have complained their servicers are complicated and negligent … Navient, which manages the accounts of 5.5 million federal student loan debtors, stated [in late September 2021] it will be transferring that a part of its enterprise to Maximus Federal Services, which additionally handles federal student loans which can be in default. Navient, which additionally has a personal student loan enterprise, anticipates the deal going by way of earlier than the tip of the 12 months, although it nonetheless needs to be permitted by the federal government. The servicer first indicated plans to cease working with the Department of Education in July 2020, however the timing of the transition was unclear.


Navient, as soon as a part of Sallie Mae, is the third servicer of federal student loans to bow out in current months [in 2021], including a layer of complication to a good larger transition arising in February [2022]. That’s when practically 43 million debtors, with $1.6 trillion in excellent federal student loans, should begin paying on them once more. A pandemic provision that’s given debtors forbearance since March 2020 is about to run out on Jan. 31 [2022].

In the second linked article, Yahoo addressed Navient’s exit from student loan servicing:

Navient has lengthy been within the crosshairs of advocates and progressive lawmakers who believed the corporate was answerable for shoddy servicing, akin to steering student loan debtors into high-cost compensation plans or for misleading practices from New Jersey to Washington.

Its departure was welcomed.

“Navient has spent decades misleading, cheating, and abusing student borrowers. The Federal student loan program will be far better off without them,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stated in an announcement.

“Ultimately, the student loan system is broken,” she continued. “The only way to guarantee that borrowers do not face the same predatory behavior from Navient’s replacement is to cancel student debt, so that no borrower’s future is held hostage by corporations profiting off their financial distress.”

On October 18 2021, CNBC reported additional developments within the apparently chaotic student loan servicing information style:

On Friday [October 15 2021], the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid workplace introduced a stricter set of requirements for student loan servicers, the businesses the federal government pays to supervise the billing and assortment of student loan funds.

“FSA is raising the bar for the level of service student loan borrowers will receive,” stated FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray in an announcement. “Our actions come at a critical time as we help borrowers prepare for loan payments to resume early next year. The great work done by our negotiating team here enables us to ensure that loan servicers meet the tougher standards or face consequences.”

In the previous, servicers have been accused of harassing debtors, deceptive debtors about their choices, mismanaging the general public service loan forgiveness program and poor customer support.

The new adjustments are supposed to “ensure a smooth transition for borrowers out of the student loan pause ending on Jan. 31, 2022” and in addition come throughout a big re-shuffling amongst servicers.

A very talked-about tweet claiming that U.S. student loans price the federal government “over $60B more to service than they bring in a year” unfold from Twitter to Reddit and Facebook, purportedly based mostly on Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report | Federal Student Aid (PDF); citations and references to the doc had been additional sophisticated by inconsistent web page numbering. Although many readers shared the content material on, some requested sources or tried to validate the $60 billion determine within the ensuing discussions. As one moderator of r/AskEconomics noticed (which matched our personal observations) the report didn’t supply any details about the price of servicing loans. We had been unable to find any official details about the price of servicing student loans both, regardless of the very fact the doc itself numbered no fewer than 250 pages (and that current servicers like Navient had been exiting the enterprise at a speedy clip). Without a benchmark for the price of student loan servicing to distinction with the supplied figures, we will solely fee the declare Unknown.

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