50 Colleges Where Parents Have the Most Trouble Repaying Loans

FE_Parent Debt_10
Loan forgiveness can't come fast enough for parent borrowers at these schools. where default and delinquency rates are three to four times the national average. Paul Morigi/We The 45 Million/Getty

The amount of debt that parents take on to cover their children's college costs has skyrocketed, rising 16 percent over the past 10 years and more than 750 percent in the past three decades, according to the College Board. These loans can be a boon for higher education access, helping families who couldn't otherwise afford tuition send their children to college. But they can also saddle borrowers with debt that strains their budget and causes serious financial hardship.

A new Newsweek analysis of recently-released federal loan data shows just how many families run into serious problems repaying what they owe and identifies the schools where parents struggle the most with college debt. The analysis also shows how much of a strain these loans often put on the households that can least afford them and how little they pay off in many cases, since the most problematic schools tend to have very low graduation rates.

In other words, if the goal in borrowing is to pay for your child to get a degree, many of these schools fail.

Overall, the Newsweek analysis found that one in 10 borrowers under the federal government's Parent PLUS loan program defaulted on their loan or were seriously late with payments over the two academic years from 2017 to 2019. At more than 150 of the nearly 1,000 colleges and universities for which Newsweek had data, the rates topped 20 percent. And at dozens of schools, the default and delinquency rate hit at least 30 to 40 percent—a rate high enough for an institution to lose federal funding if the loans had been made to undergraduates instead of parents.

What are the colleges where parent borrowers are most likely to struggle?

For-profit institutions dominate the list, such as Blue Cliff College-Metairie near New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Dorsey School of Business-Woodhaven outside Detroit, Michigan, where the default and delinquency rates reached 39 and 36 percent, respectively, and more than 85 percent of parent borrowers were from lower-income households. Overall, 62 percent of the 50 schools with the highest default and delinquency rates were for-profits, where three-quarters of parent borrowers during the period analyzed came from homes with exceptional financial need.

Another 24 percent of the 50 schools on the list are historically Black colleges and universities, which rely heavily on parent loans due to institutional underfunding and a larger share of students coming from lower-income families. Among them: Tennessee's Le Moyne-Owen College in Memphis, where the default and delinquency rate was 32 percent and nine in 10 parent borrowers had low incomes, and Lane College in Jackson, with a 34 percent rate and 93 percent of borrowers from low-income households.

Below is the full list of the top 50 schools where parent borrowers struggle the most with repaying their loans.

49 (tie). Dawn Career Institute LLC

Newark, Delaware
Graduation rate: 72%
Median loan amount: $5,307
Default and delinquency rate: 27.03%
Low-income borrowers: 75%

49 (tie). Remington College-Dallas Campus

Garland, Texas
Graduation rate: 74%
Median loan amount: $5,311
Default and delinquency rate: 27.03%
Low-income borrowers: 85%

PLUS: College engineering class
The amount parents are borrowing through the PLUS program jumped more than 16 percent in the last ten years. Monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

48. Salter College-West Boylston

West Boylston, Massachusetts
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $4,696
Default and delinquency rate: 27.07%
Low-income borrowers: 92%

47. Unitech Training Academy-Lafayette

Lafayette, Louisiana
Graduation rate: 66%
Median loan amount: $3,711
Default and delinquency rate: 27.5%
Low-income borrowers: 79%

46. Wiley College

Marshall, Texas
Graduation rate: 37%
Median loan amount: $9,985
Default and delinquency rate: 27.62%
Low-income borrowers: 87%

45. Cortiva Institute-Tucson

Tucson, Arizona
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $4,446
Default and delinquency rate: 27.66%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

44. Antonelli College-Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $8,800
Default and delinquency rate: 27.71%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

42. (tie). Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Ponce

Mercedita, Puerto Rico
Graduation rate: 33%
Median loan amount: $4,000
Default and delinquency rate: 28.07%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

42 (tie). Branford Hall Career Institute-Parsippany

Parsippany, New Jersey
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $3,696
Default and delinquency rate: 28.07%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

PLUS: College students note taking
At more than 150 schools across the nation, the median amount borrowed by parents exceeds the maximum $27,000 that traditional undergraduates are allowed to borrow. gorodenkoff/Getty Images

40 (tie). Fortis College-Foley

Foley, Alabama
Graduation rate: 53%
Median loan amount: $4,243
Default and delinquency rate: 28.21%
Low-income borrowers: 82%

40 (tie). Career Technical Institute

Washington, D.C.
Graduation rate: 91%
Median loan amount: $7,949
Default and delinquency rate: 28.21%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

39. Harris School of Business-Cherry Hill Campus

Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $5,053
Default and delinquency rate: 28.24%
Low-income borrowers: 92%

38. Medical Institute of Palm Beach

Greenacres, Florida
Graduation rate: 98%
Median loan amount: $5,449
Default and delinquency rate: 28.26%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

37. Beauty Schools of America-Hialeah

Hialeah, Florida
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $3,000
Default and delinquency rate: 28.32%
Low-income borrowers: 93%

36. Berkeley College-New York

New York, New York
Graduation rate: 38%
Median loan amount: $10,900
Default and delinquency rate: 28.36%
Low-income borrowers: 88%

35. Milan Institute-San Antonio Ingram

San Antonio, Texas
Graduation rate: 44%
Median loan amount: $3,427
Default and delinquency rate: 28.41%
Low-income borrowers: 77%

PLUS: College lecture
Of the 50 schools with the highest rates of Parent PLUS loan default and delinquency, for-profit institutions make up 62 percent of the list. Monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

34. Stillman College

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Graduation rate: 23%
Median loan amount: $8,000
Default and delinquency rate: 28.8%
Low-income borrowers: 84%

33. Concorde Career Institute-Jacksonville

Jacksonville, Florida
Graduation rate: 69%
Median loan amount: $7,331
Default and delinquency rate: 29.57%
Low-income borrowers: 87%

32. Livingstone College

Salisbury, North Carolina
Graduation rate: 31%
Median loan amount: $14,289
Default and delinquency rate: 29.93%
Low-income borrowers: 90%

31. Institute for Business and Technology

Santa Clara, California
Graduation rate: 80%
Median loan amount: $5,899
Default and delinquency rate: 30%
Low-income borrowers: 65%

30. Platt College

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Graduation rate: 50%
Median loan amount: $4,514
Default and delinquency rate: 30.2%
Low-income borrowers: 81%

29. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Graduation rate: 29%
Median loan amount: $7,570
Default and delinquency rate: 30.4%
Low-income borrowers: 85%

28. Philander Smith College

Little Rock, Arkansas
Graduation rate: 33%
Median loan amount: $14,000
Default and delinquency rate: 30.48%
Low-income borrowers: 93%

27. National University College

Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Graduation rate: 20%
Median loan amount: $5,141
Default and delinquency rate: 30.83%
Low-income borrowers: 86%

26. Florida Memorial University

Miami Gardens, Florida
Graduation rate: 39%
Median loan amount: $11,100
Default and delinquency rate: 31.11%
Low-income borrowers: 88%

PLUS: college students talking in hall
Twenty-four percent of the 50 schools with the highest rates of Parent Plus loan default and delinquency were historically Black colleges and universities. Monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

25. Pinnacle Career Institute-South Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri
Graduation rate: 41%
Median loan amount: $7,925
Default and delinquency rate: 31.15%
Low-income borrowers: 54%

24. Florida Career College-Miami

Miami, Florida
Graduation rate: 63%
Median loan amount: $8,634
Default and delinquency rate: 31.37%
Low-income borrowers: 95%

23. Academy of Cosmetology and Esthetics NYC

Staten Island, New York
Graduation rate: 82%
Median loan amount: $7,502
Default and delinquency rate: 31.43%
Low-income borrowers: 59%

22. Jarvis Christian College

Hawkins, Texas
Graduation rate: 16%
Median loan amount: $8,320
Default and delinquency rate: 31.63%
Low-income borrowers: 88%

21. UEI College-Fresno

Fresno, California
Graduation rate: 62%
Median loan amount: $7,889
Default and delinquency rate: 31.64%
Low-income borrowers: 87%

20. Empire Beauty School-Manhattan

New York, New York
Graduation rate: 55%
Median loan amount: $3,138
Default and delinquency rate: 31.73%
Low-income borrowers: 87%

19. Le Moyne-Owen College

Memphis, Tennessee
Graduation rate: 24%
Median loan amount: $6,500
Default and delinquency rate: 32.39%
Low-income borrowers: 92%

18. Miles College

Fairfield, Alabama
Graduation rate: 24%
Median loan amount: $9,631
Default and delinquency rate: 32.7%
Low-income borrowers: 93%

PLUS: College students walking down hall
Last year, one out of every four dollars in federal loans given out for undergraduate education went to people paying for a kid or grandkid’s studies. Vasyl Dolmatov/Getty Images

17. Lackawanna College

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Graduation rate: 30%
Median loan amount: $11,250
Default and delinquency rate: 32.9%
Low-income borrowers: 68%

16. Benedict College

Columbia, South Carolina
Graduation rate: 24%
Median loan amount: $19,530
Default and delinquency rate: 33.12%
Low-income borrowers: 92%

15. Altierus Career College-Tampa

Tampa, Florida
Graduation rate: 54%
Median loan amount: $3,898
Default and delinquency rate: 33.76%
Low-income borrowers: 89%

14. Lane College

Jackson, Tennessee
Graduation rate: 27%
Median loan amount: $8,000
Default and delinquency rate: 34.36%
Low-income borrowers: 93%

13. City College-Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Graduation rate: 46%
Median loan amount: $7,334
Default and delinquency rate: 35.79%
Low-income borrowers: 90%

12. Dorsey School of Business-Woodhaven

Woodhaven, Michigan
Graduation rate: 47%
Median loan amount: $5,339
Default and delinquency rate: 36.42%
Low-income borrowers: 87%

11. Southern Careers Institute-Austin

Austin, Texas
Graduation rate: 53%
Median loan amount: $4,153
Default and delinquency rate: 36.58%
Low-income borrowers: 80%

10. Allen University

Columbia, South Carolina
Graduation rate: 25%
Median loan amount: $7,899
Default and delinquency rate: 37.8%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

PLUS: College students in library
With PLUS loans, parents can borrow up to the full cost of attendance each year minus any financial aid the student receives. Jacob Ammentorp Lund/Getty Images

9. Centura College-Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduation rate: 19%
Median loan amount: $9,878
Default and delinquency rate: 37.84%
Low-income borrowers: 76%

8. Dakota College at Bottineau

Bottineau, North Dakota
Graduation rate: 32%
Median loan amount: $5,417
Default and delinquency rate: 37.93%
Low-income borrowers: 73%

7. Blue Cliff College-Metairie

Metairie, Louisiana
Graduation rate: 74%
Median loan amount: $5,637
Default and delinquency rate: 38.67%
Low-income borrowers: 86%

6. Southern Technical College

Orlando, Florida
Graduation rate: 62%
Median loan amount: $4,828
Default and delinquency rate: 38.71%
Low-income borrowers: 85%

5. Career Quest Learning Centers-Lansing

Lansing, Michigan
Graduation rate: 68%
Median loan amount: $4,961
Default and delinquency rate: 38.78%
Low-income borrowers: 81%

4. Vista College

El Paso, Texas
Graduation rate: 78%
Median loan amount: $6,411
Default and delinquency rate: 38.83%
Low-income borrowers: 91%

3. Stevens-Henager College

West Haven, Utah
Graduation rate: 33%
Median loan amount: $4,786
Default and delinquency rate: 39.24%
Low-income borrowers: 89%

2. National College-Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee
Graduation rate: N/A
Median loan amount: $5,638
Default and delinquency rate: 40%
Low-income borrowers: N/A

1. South Texas Vocational Technical Institute-Weslaco

Weslaco, Texas
Graduation rate: 67%
Median loan amount: $2,867
Default and delinquency rate: 42.94%
Low-income borrowers: 96%

Notes: Data is from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019. Default is defined as failure to make payments for more than 360 days, delinquent as failure to pay for 31 to 360 days. Median loan amount represents how much parents borrowed for each student who graduated or otherwise left school during the two-year period. Eligibility for a federal Pell grant, given to students with exceptional financial need, is used as a proxy for low-income borrowers; the data represents the percentage of Parent PLUS borrowers whose student is Pell eligible. Graduation rates are over eight years and current as of July 20, 2021. Source: College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education

FE_Parent Debt_COVER
Illustration by Alex Fine for Newsweek