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William Emmons, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Moderator: What We Know About Student Loans in the Eighth District and Nationwide

NOVEMBER 18, 2013

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view the conference agenda and presentation slides »

   Julie Stackhouse, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:20)

   Rohit Chopra, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (30:08)
   Keynote Q&A (8:06)
   Interview with Rohit Chopra (6:40)

Resources for Managing Student Loans
   Introductions (2:12)
   Paul Combe, American Student Assistance (7:02)
   Interview with Paul Combe (12:58)
   Vicki Jacobson, Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling (5:46)
   Marilyn Landrum, Missouri Department of Higher Education (3:58)

Resources for Economics and Personal Finance
   Mary C. Suiter, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (3:10)

Research Panel:
What We Know About Student Loans in the Eighth District and Nationwide
now playing  MODERATOR: William R. Emmons, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (4:14)
   Bryan J. Noeth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (13:53)
   Kelly D. Edmiston, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (9:17)
   Caroline Ratcliffe, Urban Institute (14:22)
   Research Panel Discussion (35:46)

The Future of Student Loans and Financing Higher Education
   MODERATOR: Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (7:32)
   Sandy Baum, Urban Institute and George Washington University (11:06)
   Interview with Sandy Baum (7:23)
   William Elliott III, University of Kansas (13:12)
   Jen Mishory, Young Invincibles (8:37)
   Interview with Jen Mishory (8:01)
   Gary A. Ransdell, Western Kentucky University (11:35)
   Roundtable Discussion (40:21)


Below is a full transcript of this video presentation. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

William Emmons: This is the research panel where we’re going to share findings to see, what do we know about student loans in the 8th District and Nationwide? I’m Bill Emmons. I’m an economist at the St. Louis Fed and at the Center for Household Financial Stability. The goal of this session is to advance our understanding of student loans; who has them; how burdensome are they; and why we’re seeing such rapid growth both of student loan balances and post completion payment difficulties. You’ll hear about three interesting research agendas that will help us fill in some of the gaps in our understanding of student debt. Our speakers will look both at nationwide and across states and in detail closer to home in the St. Louis region. They’ll examine both the hard data and how student borrowers perceive their debt burdens. With his baseline knowledge in hand the next session at 4:00 will tackle the future of student loans and more broadly the financing of higher education in the United States. We at the Center for Household Financial Stability hope this brief symposium will increase your understanding of the promise and perils of student loans in America today so you can be an informed participant in the discussion of the future financing of higher education. In particular we hope you will come away with information and insights that help you answer questions like these: Is there a crisis in student lending today? If so, how did we get here? Who is at greatest risk? What can we do about it? Does our system of financing higher education need modest reforms or radical surgery? For example would it be helpful or harmful to make some or all student loans dischargeable in personal bankruptcy? Should we make all student loan payments depend on the borrower’s income? Is there too much federal government involvement in student lending or not enough? What are the implications for students in the broader population of declining state funding for higher education? As in, for example, the State of Illinois.

Realistically we won’t answer all of these questions today. But we certainly plan to make significant progress. To help us do that we begin with three 15 minute presentation of recent research into student loans and student borrowers. I’m going to introduce all of the speakers right now. And then they will come up in turn. You can read their biographies in the program.

Our first speaker is Caroline Ratcliffe of the Urban Institute in Washington DC. Caroline will provide us with information about the increasing prevalence of student debt and how student borrowers perceive their debt burdens.

The second presentation is by Wenhua Di of the Dallas Fed and Kelly Edmiston of the Kansas City Fed. Wenhua and Kelly will share some results from their study of student borrowing and delinquency patterns across different states providing tentative answers to the questions, what’s driving debt accumulation and delinquency.

Our third speaker is Bryan Noeth of the St. Louis Fed and the Household Financial Stability Center. Bryan will explain what’s happening in the seven states that make up the St. Louis Fed’s District. Be sure to watch for two very cool charts in Bryan’s presentation that show first, the frequency of student loan balances of various sizes. How much do all of the borrowers have? And second, a chart that shows the surprisingly large number of borrowers who are in deferral or delinquency status at any given time. We need to understand what happens early in the post college life of a student borrower to know whether our current financing system is working as we think it should. I think Caroline, Wenhua, Kelly, and Bryan will take us a long way toward clearing up some of the confusion about what’s actually happening with student loans today. So, I’d like to ask Caroline to get us started.