JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri's higher education department says the student loan default rate in the state has risen by more than 40 percent.
Assistant higher education commissioner Leanne Cardwell attributes the increase to the economic downturn that began in 2007.
Figures from the department show that 4,617 Missouri borrowers from 160 schools are in default on their student loans. That amounts to nearly 6.1 percent of the student borrowers -- up from 4.3 percent last year.
Even with the increase, Missouri's student loan default rate remains lower than the national rate of 6.7 percent.
The rates track borrowers whose loans originated between Oct. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2007, and went into default before Sept. 30, 2008.