Learn more about Student Debt Smarter

A Letter from Senior Advisor Sheila Bair

Sheila Bair

Sheila Bair has had a long and distinguished career in government, academia, and finance, and was twice named by Forbes Magazine as the second most powerful woman in the world. Bair was Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2006 to 2011, when she steered the agency through the Great Recession; is a frequent commentator on financial regulation and the student debt crisis; and is the author of the NY Times Best Seller, Bull by the Horns, her memoir of the financial crisis, as well as the Money Tales picture book series for children.

Welcome to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s (PGPF) Student Debt Smarter Initiative. If you are reading this, you are probably starting to think about your college education and confronting hard choices over where to go to school and how to pay for it. These days, it is common for students to borrow to pay for some or all of their higher education. Indeed, at the end of 2020, about 43 million borrowers owed some $1.6 trillion in student debt. Is all this debt a good thing or a bad thing? Opinions differ. Debt is a way to get something now and pay for it later. As such, it imposes a financial burden on a borrower’s future. But that’s OK if borrowers are smart about their borrowing. Helping college-bound young people make that determination is what Student Debt Smarter is all about.

About the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Student Debt Smarter is an initiative of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which promotes fiscal responsibility to secure a stronger economic future for the next generation.

The Peterson Foundation works to raise awareness about America’s growing national debt, but we also recognize that at the individual level, student debt is one of the most significant challenges facing the next generation. Financing higher education involves a critical set of decisions that have a lasting impact on individual lives, yet the process can be complex and confusing. By providing customized access to relevant and accurate information, Student Debt Smarter helps young people make more informed decisions about their future. We are proud to partner with a range of trusted experts on this initiative, helping to increase transparency and empower young Americans to reach their education, career and financial goals.

Our Collaborators

Student Debt Smarter provides simple and easy-to-understand resources aimed at helping the next generation make informed choices about their student loans. We have collaborated with leading national organizations in higher education, data research and analytics, and public policy to bring these resources to life.

Start Your College Journey on the Right Foot

Take control of your financial future by using the Student Debt Affordability Calculator to understand how different levels of student debt could impact your life after graduation.

Explore Your Options