Journalism: “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” is misleading

Journalism: “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” is misleading

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The first sentence to this pseudo news report shows the headline is misleading:

A quarter of borrowers who take out student loans end up defaulting within five years, while many of the people who pause or defer payments due to hardships end up paying more than they originally would’ve owed, according to a study from the Pew Charitable Trusts.


Of 400,000 residents in the state who took out a student loan between 2007 and 2011, roughly 24% defaulted within five years. Nationwide, 26% of borrowers defaulted, Pew said.

Source: 1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans, study finds – CBS News

This wording is highly misleading – it uses the propaganda method of “anchoring” to anchor your thinking (as I did) to the “1 in 4 Americans” have defaulted on student loans.

As you can see from their own reporting, 1 in 4 of those “who took out a student loan” – during the economic collapse and depression – defaulted.

The actual number is about 4% of the population defaulted on a student loan during the economic collapse and depression.

As of 2019, about 45 million of the U.S.’s 320 million people have taken on a student loan. That is 14% of the population. The typical student graduates with about $29,800 in debt which they pay back in monthly payments as small as about $200.  From the actual Pew study, 1 in 4 of that group – or just under 4% defaulted on a loan.

The CBS News headline “1 in 4 Americans defaulted on their student loans” leaves out the critical context that this occurred during the worst economic collapse since The Great Depression.

This is likely intentional propaganda messaging from CBS News. Their goal is for you to support the wiping out of student loan debt (which is technically transferring other’s debts to you). Viewers and readers will leave with the yellow journalism exaggerated headline that “1 in 4” defaulted on their loans, and will not know that is not true.

I have another example of this coming up, where the headline from a major U.S. news outlet is 100% false.


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