Default Prevention


Default Prevention

Cohort default rates 101

The cohort default rate, or CDR, is one measure of how well a school prepares its students for student loan repayment. Low CDRs indicate that schools are counseling their students to borrow as needed, stay aware of their repayment obligations, and understand the consequences of default. High CDRs may indicate that schools need to better support their borrowers with repayment information and resources. This page, outlined in the set of hyperlinks just below, offers an overview of CDRs, how they're published, and more.

In addition, TG has created CDR resources to help schools better understand important information about CDRs, and to provide ideas for schools to consider when developing default management plans. TG has also created a high-level overview of each type of challenge, appeal, and adjustment that provides a brief description and identifies key points.

Cohort default rate defined

The cohort default rate (CDR) is the percentage of a school's borrowers who enter repayment on certain Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans in a given fiscal year and then default within the next two fiscal years.

Back to Top

Some background

In the late 1980s, CDRs were introduced to help ensure accountability among institutions of higher education. At the time, a number of schools were enrolling students who were not necessarily qualified for a program of study or who could not reasonably benefit from the degree enough to repay any federal student loans they may borrow. By implementing a measure that identified schools with high CDRs, Congress hoped to cut down on fraud in the marketing of higher education and to help ensure that students could make good on their college investment.

Back to Top

How CDRs are calculated

The federal fiscal year (FY), which begins October 1 of one year and ends September 30 of the next year, is the key span of time in measuring CDRs.

Let's examine the calculation of the FY 2013 CDR as an example. The FY 2013 CDR is based on borrowers who entered repayment in FY 2013 (October 1, 2012 - September 30, 2013) and subsequently defaulted before the end of FY 2015 (September 30, 2015). A borrower affects a school's CDR if he or she enters repayment in a given fiscal year and defaults within the next two fiscal years.

FY 2013 CDR =
Number of borrowers who defaulted
between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2015
Number of borrowers who entered repayment
between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013

x 100

CDR publication process

ED provides schools with draft, or unofficial, CDRs via email each spring. This draft rate is ED's initial calculation and is released only to schools and not the general public. The official rates are released to schools each fall and made available to the general public at that time. The official rate is used to determine if schools have triggered a benefit (based on a low CDR) or sanction (based on a high CDR). Schools can challenge — that is, call into question — the accuracy of data for their draft CDRs.

Back to Top

Benefits of low rates

Having several consecutive low CDRs entitles a school to certain benefits. If a school's three most recent official CDRs are less than 15 percent, the school:

  • May deliver Direct loans in a single disbursement (given semester length); and
  • Is not required to delay by 30 days the first disbursements of Direct loans to first-year, first-time, undergraduate borrowers.

Back to Top

Consequences of high rates

Consistently high CDRs can result in some significant consequences. Schools with three official, consecutive CDRs of 30 percent or greater, or a single CDR of greater than 40 percent, could lose eligibility to participate in certain Title IV programs, including the FDLP and Federal Pell Grant Program.

Any time two of a school's three most recent CDRs equal or exceed 30 percent, the school may be placed on provisional certification for Title IV participation.

Further, the first time a school's official CDR is equal to or greater than 30 percent, the school must establish a default prevention task force and prepare a default prevention plan. This plan must:

  • Identify the factors causing the rate to be 30 percent or greater,
  • Establish measurable objectives and steps to improve future rates, and
  • Specify actions that can be taken to improve student loan repayment, including counseling regarding loan repayment options.

The school's plan must be submitted to ED for review.

If a school's CDR remains equal to or greater than 30 percent for two consecutive fiscal years, the school's default prevention task force must review and revise the plan, and submit the revised plan to ED. ED may require the school to make further revisions to the plan and/or take actions to improve student loan repayment success.

Back to Top

Challenges, adjustments, and appeals

Schools may submit challenges after the release of the draft cohort default rates; schools may submit adjustments and appeals after the release of the official cohort default rates.

The challenges, adjustments, and appeals fall into two main categories:

  • Challenges, adjustments, and appeals that contend that the Loan Record Detail Report (LRDR) contains inaccurate data and that as a result, the school's cohort default rate is inaccurate.

    If a school submits one of these challenges, adjustments, or appeals, and the challenge, adjustment, or appeal is successful, the school's cohort default rate may be lowered, raised, or not affected. If the school's cohort default rate is lowered, the school may avoid a sanction or become eligible for a benefit.
  • Challenges and appeals that contend that the school has exceptional mitigating circumstances, or a low participation rate index, that should remove the school from being subject to cohort default rate sanction.

    If a school submits one of these challenges or appeals, and the challenge or appeal is successful, the school may avoid sanctions. However, the school's cohort default rate will not be affected.

The type of challenge, adjustment, or appeal a school should submit depends on the school's situation.

Further details regarding the submission of challenges, adjustments and appeals are provided in Chapter 3 of ED's Cohort Default Rate Guide.

Back to Top

National and Texas CDRs

The charts below display national and Texas CDRs for 1992-2013 period.

Three-Year Official Cohort Default Rates (Adobe Acrobat pdf document Adobe PDF)


National Three-Year Official Cohort Default Rates for 1992-2013


Texas Three-Year Official Cohort Default Rates for 1991-2013


Texas Student Loan Default Rates (Adobe Acrobat pdf document Adobe PDF)

Fiscal Year 2013 Three-Year Official Cohort Default Rates by Region

Texas Student Loan Default Rates, Fiscal Year 2012 Official Three-Year Cohort Default Rates by Region

Back to Top