Monday, July 23, 2012

Student Loans: Is There Really A Crisis?

Andy Rotherham's comments:

Student debt is completely out of control, right? The more than $1 trillion in outstanding college loans is front-page news and is pretty much the only educational issue the presidential candidates are talking about. Yes, ballooning student debt is causing real hardship for some Americans. But as with many educational flare-ups, the public debate is giving us more noise than signal. So before you decide to skip college based on the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Students with $100,000 debt loads are far from the norm. On May 13 the New York Times took a long look at student loans. The paper profiled a student who just graduated from Ohio Northern University, a private Methodist college, with $120,000 in debt. That is a staggering amount, which is no doubt why the Times led with this young woman. But the article subsequently noted that just 3% of student borrowers owe more than $100,000; only 10% owe more than $54,000.

Meanwhile, median debt for the two-thirds of U.S. college students who borrow to finance their education is only $12,800.  That's actually less than the difference in annual earnings between those with a college degree and those with only a high school education — a gap that government data shows is growing as the economy becomes more skill-based. That's part of the reason for the rapidly rising student loan debt: we're in the midst of an economic downturn, and people are returning to school to upgrade their skills. It wasn't lost on Americans that college graduates were much less likely to be unemployed during the past few years.


School of Thought

Student Loans: Is There Really A Crisis?

A look behind the hysteria about debt-saddled college graduates

By Andrew J. Rotherham | @arotherham | May 17, 2012 | 22

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