U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans
Federal Student Loan Programs Data Book  -  FY 1997-FY 2000
Introduction CONTENTS    < BACK    NEXT >




The federal student financial assistance programs are administered by the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office within the U.S. Department of Education. These programs provide funds to help students meet postsecondary education costs. Often referred to as "Title IV programs" because the authorizing legislation is written in Title IV of the Higher Education Act, FSA programs include loans, grants, and work-study programs. FSA programs include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), the Federal Work-Study Program, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDLP).

The Data Book focuses on two of the FSA programs, the FFEL program and the FDLP. These two programs are of particular interest because they are structured as entitlement programs. Under the FFEL program, the entitlements accrue to lenders and guaranty agencies, while under the FDLP, entitlements accrue to individual borrowers. This special status as an entitlement program explains some of the spectacular growth of the FFEL program and the FDLP.

While the FFEL program began in FY 1966 and the FDLP began in FY 1994, both programs have grown rapidly. The quantitative data that have been assembled in the Data Book reflect this growth and are of interest to state officials, Congress, federal officials, postsecondary educational institutions, guaranty agencies, lenders, parents, students, researchers, and policymakers.

The FFEL program was known formerly as the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) program. The GSL program, originally authorized in the Higher Education Act of 1965, empowered state and private nonprofit agencies to guarantee student loans and to establish loan insurance for lenders who did not have access to state or private nonprofit agencies. The GSL program, renamed the FFEL program in the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, has experienced enormous growth. Cumulative loan volume increased from $102 billion and 48 million loans at the end of FY 1989 to $317 billion and 110 million loans guaranteed at the end of FY 2000.

The Federal Direct Loan Demonstration Program was first authorized by the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 as a pilot program. This program, which eventually became the FDLP, was designed to improve the delivery of loans to postsecondary education students in need of financial assistance. The FDLP, authorized by the Student Loan Reform Act of 1993 as part of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1993, has grown rapidly in the short time it has been operational. For example, during FY 1995, FDLP's first full fiscal year of activity, the program committed $5.1 billion through 1.3 million loans. By FY 2000, FDLP loan volume increased more than 130 percent to $11.8 billion, while the number of loans more than doubled to 3.1 million.

In order to understand the data presented in this publication, it is important to know that the FFEL program and the FDLP comprise the same loan program types: the Federal Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized) and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) loans. The Stafford Subsidized Loan is awarded on the basis of the borrower's financial need, while the Stafford Unsubsidized Loan is not based on need. The PLUS loan is designed for parents who take out loans on behalf of dependent students. In addition, both the FFEL program and FDLP offer Consolidation loans. It is important to note that the Supplemental Loan to Students (SLS) program, established in 1981 under the FFEL program, was replaced by the FFEL Stafford Unsubsidized loan program in FY 1994. Thus, the SLS program, while previously a component of the FFEL program, has never been a component of the FDLP.

Although the FFEL program and the FDLP share similar program components, each disburses funds differently. FFEL program loans are made through private lenders while FDLP loans are disbursed directly from the U.S. government to postsecondary institutions. Eligible postsecondary institutions may choose to provide borrowers access to federally supported loans through the FFEL program or the FDLP, but not both.

Recent legislative activity has had an effect on borrower repayment activity for FFEL program and FDLP loans. For example, the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 lengthened the amount of time before a loan falls into default, extended repayment options for borrowers with large debt amounts, and instituted new loan forgiveness provisions for borrowers who become teachers. Interested readers are encouraged to reference the legislative history section in appendix II of this book for additional information.

Data Organization

The data assembled for this edition of the Data Book are from various sources. The primary source is the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), a live database of loan records. Other data have been assembled from data collected through the ED Form 1189, ED Form 1130, ED Form 799, Direct Loan/Loan Origination System, U.S. Department of Treasury, Sallie Mae Annual Report, and Financial Partners Channel records.

It is important to note that data for the FDLP are limited to seven fiscal years (FY 1994-FY 2000). All other loan programs are clearly marked to indicate the time period in which the program was operational. Where data is not available, a notation appears in the footnote.

Loan volume commitments (dollars and loans) represent commitments by guaranty agencies for the FFEL program. For the FDLP, loan volume commitments (dollars and loans) are listed by state. The publication presents FFEL program and FDLP data by program component (loan program type) and as a FFEL program total or FDLP total. Electronic copies of the data presented in these tables will be available through the Web site at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/ppi.html.

The Office of Policy, Planning and Innovation publishes data on other Title IV programs. Information on the Pell Grant Program can be found in the Title IV/Federal Pell Grant Program End of the Year Report and information on the campus-based programs (Perkins Loans, Federal Work-Study, and the SEOG program) can be found in the Federal Campus Based Programs Data Books. Both documents are available through the website at www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/Data/index.html


Between FY 1997 and FY 2000, loan volume commitments for the FFEL program and FDLP grew 15 percent from $32.5 billion to $37.5 billion. As illustrated in figure 1, much of this increase occurred between FY 1999 and FY 2000, when combined loan volume commitments jumped by more than $3 billion. From FY 1997 to FY 2000, FFEL program commitments grew from $21.7 billion to $25.7 billion, while FDLP volume grew from $10.9 billion to $11.8 billion.

Data Book Organization

The Loan Programs Data Book is organized to help readers who want summary information and/or detailed program information. The core of the volume consists of 64 tables, text summarizing highlights of the data in each table, and graphs or charts, as required to assist readers. This edition also contains a legislative history of the FFEL program and FDLP and a glossary of nearly 100 terms.

The 64 tables and companion text are organized into four sections:

The information contained in each table is arranged in the following sequence:

When data are available for FFEL programs in existence prior to FY 1990, the entire data set is presented in a corresponding table that appears in Appendix I. Since some FFEL programs began more than 35 years ago, this cumulative data serves as a historical accounting of FFEL program activity.

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Federal Student Loan Programs Data Book  -  FY 1997-FY 2000