White government building

The Federal Government's Role in the Student Loan System

Approximately 9 in 10 student loans come from the federal government.

Whether you are a high school student worrying about how you’re going to pay for college, a college student concerned about paying back your loans, or a college graduate trying to balance your budget with student loan payments on top of your living expenses — there’s a good chance that, in one way or another, the federal government’s policies on student loans affect you personally.

Why is our government involved in most student loans, anyway? Why has student loan debt grown so much? Why do so many people feel overwhelmed by their loans? What are ways we might fix the system?

There are so many good questions, and you are in the right place to begin finding answers. If you?d like to cover some of the basics about how to apply for financial aid, make sense of your aid offer, and search for other ways to make college more affordable, you’ll want to start here.

Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about how the federal government is involved in student loans, why student loan debt has grown so much, ways that the system can be improved, and more.

A resource from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, created with collaboration from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).