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Student Loan Defaults Drop, but the Numbers Are Rigged

College debt is crushing more graduates than the data show.
Arvada West Graduates 50th Class
Photographer: Seth McConnell/Denver Post via Getty Images

The good news is that Americans are taking longer to default on their federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday. The bad news is that the overall number of defaults continues to rise.

How can this be? Well, defaults fell by a half percentage point, to 11.3 percent, compared with a year earlier. This measures the number of former students who went 360 consecutive days without making a payment since their first bill came due in fiscal year 2013.