Poor and middle-income parents at hundreds of colleges have taken on substantial debt—amounts sometimes more than twice their annual income—to help their children through school, new federal figures show.
The schools with the largest parent debt burdens aren’t world-famous Ivy League schools, a Wall Street Journal analysis of the data found. Rather, they include art schools, historically Black colleges and small private colleges where parents are borrowing nearly six-figure amounts to fulfill their children’s college dreams, the analysis found.
For the first time, the U.S. Education Department, through its annual release of college financial data, provided information Wednesday on the level of debt parents took on through a federal college loan program called Parent Plus.
Previously, the department released information on debt levels of students at specific colleges and universities, but not the borrowing taken on by parents on a student’s behalf.
The Parent Plus data “provides a more complete financial picture of how recent graduates have paid for their postsecondary education, especially if their parents took on debt to help them cover some or all of the costs,” the Education Department said in a statement Wednesday.