Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/Getty

America's massive student debt problem is slowly getting better, but thousands who took on big loans then never graduated have little chance of escaping the morass.

The big picture: These individuals are at an impasse — many want to graduate so they can qualify for higher-paying jobs and pay down debt, but they can't go back to school until they pay off existing loans.

By the numbers: The Institute for College Access and Success, a non-profit advocacy group, did an analysis of all U.S. undergraduates who started college in 2003 or 2004.

  • 11% of them dropped out with debt
  • 42% of these attended for-profit colleges, and 47% public universities
  • And 23% of them are African-American; that compares with 14% of all American students who are African-American.

Overall, the nationwide student debt burden is beginning to shrink as a proportion of household income, reports Axios' Felix Salmon. And for the first time since the 1980s, tuition inflation is lower than the rise in consumer prices.

  • Some good news: Americans who accrue the most student debt tend to be doctors, lawyers and other professionals — those most likely to be able to pay it off.
  • Yes, but: For those who don't complete college, even relatively small debt, like $5,000, can be insurmountable, says Diane Cheng, a researcher at TICAS.

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Driving the news: California public health director Dr. Sonia Angell resigned on Sunday without explanation, a few days after the state fixed a delay in reporting coronavirus test results that had affected reopenings for schools and businesses, AP reports.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 19,936,547 — Total deaths: 732,467 — Total recoveries — 12,144,510Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,063,770 — Total deaths: 163,156 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  4. Public health: How America can do smarter testing.
  5. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  6. World: Europe's CDC recommends new restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases."