The topic of student loan debt is increasingly gaining public attention. Too often, assumptions about debt are made that hide the real contours of the problem. For example, simply citing aggregated student loan debt loads at a state or national level suggests that every student loan borrower is the same– with identical financial backgrounds, borrowing to attend similar institutions, and facing the same issues with repayment. Even a preliminary examination of the issue indicates that this is not the case. For example, middle class graduate students, gaining degrees in a STEM field, are facing much different student loan issues than those from working‐class families who enroll in a for‐profit degree program.

This paper seeks to explore student loan debt and its attendant issues in North Carolina, and make policy recommendations based on specific types of students loan debt and demographic characteristics of the borrowers in NC.

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