Economic Justice / Student Debt

New Analysis: 730,000+ Coloradans Suffer Under Historic Levels of Student Debt

January 22, 2019

As the Legislative Session Begins, Student Loan Borrowers of All Ages in Colorado Now Owe More Than $26 Billion in Student Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and New Era Colorado released new analysis demonstrating the scale of the student debt crisis in Colorado. A new analysis of government data shows that more than 1-in-4 middle-aged Coloradans now owe student loan debt. For the first time, nearly half of all young adults in the state owe money on a student loan. This analysis makes a clear and compelling case for Colorado to take action to protect student loan borrowers from illegal student loan industry practices.

Colorado borrowers owe more than $26 billion in student debt.

This new analysis looks at data made available by the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Philadelphia and shows the student debt crisis growing for borrowers across the state, including:

  • Over the last 10 years (2007-2017), 176% growth in student debt across Colorado; higher than the rate of growth in student debt nationally;
  • 733,700 Colorado borrowers have $26.4 billion in outstanding student debt;
  • Colorado added more than 15,000 new borrowers in just one year;
  • More than 130,000 rural Coloradans owe student loan debt; and more than 20,000 of them are severely delinquent;
  • Nearly a quarter of all consumers in Colorado owe student loan debt; and
  • More than 1,000 complaints from Coloradans about student loan companies, including more than 100 complaints from servicemembers with student debt.

“Colorado student loan borrowers suffer each day from the burden of their debt, it’s time state leaders take action,” said Seth Frotman, Executive Director for the Student Borrower Protection Center. “The federal government has walked away from this crisis, casting hundreds of thousands of Coloradans aside in the process. The borrowers across Colorado cannot wait any longer for predatory student loan companies to be held accountable.”

“If Colorado’s future leaders are held back because of their student loan debt, that will have a ripple effect on our state and our economy for years to come,” said Charley Olena, Advocacy Director for New Era Colorado. “The tens of thousands of young voters we work with every year consistently name student debt as the top area they want to see elected officials taking action. With oversight crumbling at the federal level, it’s more important now than ever that our leaders are taking steps to protect Coloradans burdened by student debt.”

Student loan borrowers across Colorado continue to suffer under the weight of mounting debt and face new hurdles from predatory companies. This analysis exposes the rising levels of unsustainable debt shouldered by borrowers of all ages, in communities across the state; yet, the Trump Administration continues to ignore mounting evidence of the nation’s growing student debt crisis. Not only has the federal government halted efforts to protect student loan borrowers, it is turning a blind eye predatory practices and enabling bad actors.

As the new legislative session begins, the SBPC, New Era Colorado, and other partners are demanding accountability from the companies at the center of a broken student loan system. This new analysis bolsters the case made by leaders across Colorado that the state must take immediate action to demand justice for student loan borrowers in their communities.

“There’s no doubt that the amount of student debt that Coloradans carry is a major problem facing our state, both now and for our future” says Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg  “I’m proud to sponsor several bills this session that will tackle this issue head on, and excited to continue to work with our members to find state solutions to the student debt crisis.”

Tackling the student debt crisis in Colorado has already emerged as a theme this legislative session, with several bills introduced this month to expand loan forgiveness for educators, to increase accountability and oversight of student loan servicers, and to notify Colorado’s public service employees of federal student loan benefits like Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Both Senate President Leroy Garcia and Governor Polis highlighted student debt in opening day and State of the State speeches.

“When so many Coloradans are carrying student debt, we need greater oversight of student loans to ensure that the people of Colorado are being treated fairly,” says Senator Faith Winter, who has carried legislation addressing oversight of loan servicers since the 2017 legislative session. “This issue is in one of my top priorities this session so that we can continue to support hard working Coloradans and protect our state from these unfair predatory loan practices.”


In the face of continuing systemic abuses across the student loan industry, state governments are taking action to expand protections for student loan borrowers and halt illegal practices by predatory companies. Last year, the Student Borrower Protection Center launched States for Student Borrower Protection, an initiative which highlights the student debt crisis in New York, and is designed to support the leaders in and out of government working to end this crisis through state level actions. Today’s release offers further evidence that state action is urgently needed.

This new analysis is part of an ongoing series of original research, projects, and campaigns by SBPC designed to help student loan borrowers by shedding light on the crisis and empower advocates.


About the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC):

The Student Borrower Protection Center ( is a nonprofit organization solely focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students. Led by the team of former federal regulators that directed oversight of the student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, SBPC exposes harmful and illegal practices in the student loan industry, drives impact litigation, advocates on behalf of student loan borrowers in Washington and in state capitals, and promotes progressive policy change. SBPC accomplishes these goals by partnering with leaders at all levels of government and throughout the nonprofit sector.

About New Era Colorado:New Era Colorado reinvents politics for young people, mobilizing and empowering a new generation to participate in our democracy to make Colorado a better place for everyone. We’re grassroots. We’re nonpartisan. And we’re all about empowering our generation to lead Colorado not left, not right, but forward. We do it all with one constant: making politics fun again. Since our founding 2006, we’ve registered more than 190,000 young people to vote across Colorado, passed critical policies at the ballot and legislature and trained hundreds of  young people to become leaders in their own right. To learn more, visit