Cohort Default Rate

About the Cohort Default Rate

Federal student loan borrowers generally have to begin repaying their loans six months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment. If borrowers make no payments for any period of 270 days, or roughly 9 months, they will default on their student loans. 

The U.S. Department of Education (Dept) tracks the number and percentage of federal student loan borrowers who default on their student loans within three years of entering repayment. This is the Cohort Default Rate, commonly referred to as “three-year” CDRs.

The Department of Education releases official cohort default rates for each school that is eligible to participate in the federal student loan program once per year. The current rates (FY 2018) were released in September 2021 and the FY 2019 rates should be released in September 2022. The national cohort default rate average is 7.3% while Arkansas Tech's cohort default rate is 5.8%.

Helpful Definitions for Deciphering the CDR

The three-year period that begins on October 1st of the fiscal year when the borrower enters repayment and ends on September 30th of the second fiscal year following the year in which the borrower entered repayment. This is the period during which a borrower’s default affects the school’s cohort default rate.

The percentage of a school's borrowers who enter repayment on federal student loans during a federal fiscal year (October 1 to September 30) and default within the cohort default period.

The fiscal year for which the cohort default rate is calculated. For example, when calculating the 2017 cohort default rate, the cohort fiscal year is FY 2017 (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017).

Failure to repay a debt. Loans must be repaid.  Making no payments on student loans, that are in repayment status, for 270 days will cause loans to go in a default status. Defaulting on student loans is very detrimental to your credit.
October 1 to September 30 - Cohort default rates are based on federal fiscal years. Federal fiscal years begin October 1st of a calendar year and end on September 30th of the following calendar year. Each federal fiscal year refers to the calendar year in which it ends.
When your federal and state income tax refunds are intercepted and applied toward the repayment of your defaulted loan.
When your employer is required to withhold a portion of your pay and send it to your loan holder to repay your defaulted loan.
FISCAL YEAR 2019 2018 2017
Default rate 1.6% 5.8% 9.1%
Number in default 40 148 240
Number in repayment 2,455 2,551 2,630



consequences of default


The consequences of defaulting can not only impact your ability to borrow but can impact your finances as well. Consequences may include the following:


1Federal Student Aid Default Management