Direct/William D. Ford

In 2023, roughly forty five million Americans have student loan debt, totaling over $1.7 trillion dollars. Most of these loans were made under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program: these loans (called Stafford loans) are owned by the government but serviced (collected) by a group of private companies. Over 38 million student loan borrowers have Direct loans. When the Direct Loan Program replaced the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) in 2010, there were only $225 billion of Direct loans outstanding, while there were over $500 billion FFELP loans. By 2023, that situation reversed: over $1.4 trillion in Direct loans outstanding, while the FFELP portfolio shrank to less than $200 billion.