Document Type


Publication Date



Brookings Mountain West


Student loan debt has increased over the past three decades. This lecture will identify the factors that led to that increase in student loan debt what economic and social factors drove that increase. The talk will also consider the economic effects of increased or decreased earnings generated by individuals with student loan debt. This analysis will present data to assess the validity of several widely-held beliefs about the impact of student loan debt in the United States (e.g., increased student loan debt is depressing the housing market) and apply data-backed evidence to determine ways in which current and proposed policies to aid student borrowers could be made more effective and more efficient.


College students; debt; Economic policy; Student aid--Government policy; Student aid--Law and legislation; student financial aid; Student loans; Universities and colleges


Economic Policy | Education Economics | Education Policy | Higher Education | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

File Format


File Size

197 KB

Streaming Media




Elizabeth Akers is a Brookings Mountain West fellow in Governance Studies.

This public lecture was delivered on March 2, 2016, in Greenspun Hall, on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Downloadable files associated with this event are:

"Reconciling the Rhetoric & Reality of Student Loan Debt," video; mp4 format; 1 hour, 29 seconds; 2.668 GB file size.

"The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt," Powerpoint presentation

AkersE_present_20160302_RhetoricReality.pptx (634 kB)
The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt