On Wednesday, the Education Department reported that defaults on federal student loans declined in 2013 for the first time in years, but don’t get too excited – they are still high above pre recession levels. “The rate’s still much higher than it should be,” said Debbie Cochrane, research director at the Institute for College Access and Success, a research and advocacy group. “I don’t think we should be celebrating that colleges have fewer than 30 percent of their students defaulting. That’s a pretty low bar.” The Education Department identified 21 schools with default rates so high that they could lose the ability to received federal student grants and loans. Many more schools also failed to meet federal default standards but the department tweaked calculations so the schools will not face sanctions.