The Education Department says there's been another drop in the percentage of people who are defaulting on their student loans in the first years of repayment.
More than 5.1 million borrowers began paying back their loans in the 2012 budget year, and about 611,000 defaulted — about 11.8 percent. The rate was 13.7 percent in 2011 and 14.7 percent for 2010.
"We're seeing real progress," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday in a phone call with reporters.
The drop was seen across all sectors of higher education — public, private and for-profit institutions.
For public institutions, the rate fell from 12.9 percent to 11.7 percent, and from 7.2 percent to 6.8 percent for private nonprofit schools.
For-profit schools had the highest rate — 15.8 percent, a decline from 19.1 percent the previous year.
All schools with a default rate that is equal to or greater than 30 percent must come up with a plan to identify the reasons for the high rates and submit that plan to the department.
Schools with high default rates may lose eligibility to take part in federal financial aid programs.
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