As defined with 34 CFR 668.202(a)(2), a Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is the percentage of federal student loan borrowers who default before the end of the second federal fiscal year following the federal fiscal year in which they entered repayment on their loans.


The U.S. Department of Education calculates CDRs annually for each postsecondary institution participating in the federal student loan programs. The most recent year for which official CDRs have been published is 2011, which is the third year for 3-year calculations. Sanctions for the 3-year CDR will now go into effect. Please note, two year calculations will no longer be published.  


The U.S. Department of Education releases draft CDRs in February, with official rates being released in September. After receiving your draft CDR, institutions will have 45 days to review the loan record detail report, identify any errors in the calculation data, and submit challenges to correct the errors. Once the official CDRs are released in September, institutions should verify all accepted challenges are reflected in the official rate and that there are no errors. Per 34 CFR 668.217, if a school’s official CDR is equal to or greater than 30 percent when published in September, then a school will be required to establish a Default Prevention Task Force, develop a default prevention plan, and submit it to the USDE.


For help with understanding the CDR process, USDE offers a Default Management website, Cohort Default Rate guide and frequently asked questions. For additional information regarding your school’s CDR, please contact the Default Prevention and Management hotline at (202) 377-4259 or e-mail at



How Can the MDHEWD Help?

Check out the variety of financial literacy and default prevention resources and services the MDHEWD has available to you. Whether your institution has a high or low cohort default rate, you have an accountability to address the reasons why student loan defaults occur within the borrower population at your institution.