The percentage of borrowers who default on their student loans shortly after leaving college has fallen, and not because they are having an easier time finding good paying jobs. The primarily reason is that more borrowers are taking advantage of a generous repayment program offered by the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Education said today that the official three-year federal student loan cohort default rate has declined to 11.8% for students who entered repayment in fiscal year 2012. In other words, 11.8% of borrowers who left school between Oct. 1 2011 and Sept. 30 2012 defaulted before Sept. 30, 2014.

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