Candidates tackle student-debt crisis Presidential elections ,
Generations of younger Americans are struggling under the weight of ever-more-unaffordable student debt — and dragging down the U.S. economy as a result.
Consider a few statistics. Today, nearly 70 percent of college graduates leave school in debt. On average, they owe about $30,000; many owe $100,000 or more ,
And they’re not alone: 44.5 million Americans now face the same burden, and together they’re on the hook for $1.57 trillion — or half a trillion more than all U.S. credit-card debt combined.
That’s a staggering amount of money: about 7 percent, in fact, of the total federal debt. It wasn’t always thus. Just 10 years ago, America’s overall student-debt burden was $675 billion; 10 years before that, it was less than $100 billion.
Several factors have conspired to create the current crisis: middle- and working-class wage stagnation; plummeting state investment in public higher education;
Massive hikes in tuition and fees; the rise of private, for-profit colleges; and a government that has encouraged students to cover the soaring cost of college by taking out loans they likely can’t afford.
But whatever the causes, the effects of today’s crushing student-debt load are clear. It’s reducing home ownership rates among millennials. It’s leading fewer young people to start businesses.
It’s forcing students to drop out of school before getting a degree. And every year, according to one recent study, it’s effectively reducing the GDP by as much as $108 billion and costing the U.S. economy as many as 1.5 million jobs.
No wonder nearly half of indebted millennials say college wasn’t worth the expense, and 68 percent say they worry about debt every day.
No wonder, too, that nearly all of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders say they want to fix the problem.