The Student Debt Crisis

More than 45 million student loan borrowers owe student debt, a result of decades of disinvestment in public higher education that has shifted costs onto students and their families while leaving colleges and universities underfunded.

navient student debt graphic

Collectively, student debt is over $1.5 trillion, and this debt surpasses all types of household debt other than mortgages. Unlike holders of other types of consumer debt, who have experienced lower levels of delinquency and default since the Great Recession, student loan borrowers remain in distress.

Nearly 1 in 4 federal borrowers are in default or struggling to stay current on their loans. When they fall behind on their payments, the consequences are dire: negative credit reports, wage garnishment and diminished options to cure defaulted loans.

Consumer credit reports—which are the keys to employment, housing and access to credit, and consequently to economic stability itself—are tarnished. This is why the AFT has launched a student debt clinic program to help our members. But we know that helping each other manage student debt is not enough; we need to join together and fight to change the terms of the debate about student debt.

Student Debt Survey

text screenshotAFT is currently surveying our members about their experiences with student debt. If you’ve gotten a text message like this one, that’s from us! To share your experience, take our survey.


Navient loan fraud

AFT members file class-action lawsuit



If you work in public service, you may be able to have your student debt forgiven. Learn more at

If you’re trying to wrap your head around student debt, check out this interactive map.

The AFT conducted a survey of our members in order to better understand their challenges with student debt. Read the summary of survey results.

Class-Action Lawsuit Launched Against Student Loan Servicer Navient over PSLF. Read the AFT press release.

Take Action

We must hold the Department of Ed and its contracted private servicers—like Navient—accountable to student loan borrowers struggling with the burden of debt and to ensure that loan servicers are not engaged in predatory, fraudulent activities.

Stop student loan fraud

Send a letter

Download the report

Student Debt Crisis

Public Service Debt Relief Is Broken