College Students are Up To Their … In Debt


The college graduating class of 2019 is more burdened by student loan debt than at any time in history. Of the recent graduating college seniors the average students took out some type of student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $30,000. Among the graduates of 2018, 69% of college students took out student loans and 14% of their parents took out an average of $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans or personal loans. For many college-age students, college is four years of racking up debt, most of it from student loans and credit cards – plus money from parents that they expected to be paid back.

American students owe over $1.50 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among almost 45 million borrowers. This amount is approximately $521 billion more than the grand total of U.S. credit card debt. The latest student loan debt statistics for 2019 show how serious the student loan debt crisis has become for borrowers across all demographics and age groups.  Student loan debt is now the second-highest consumer debt category, trailing only home mortgage debt.

Student loan delinquency or default rate is currently running 11.4% (90+ days delinquent). Former students working in many cases can not afford normal living expenses and still repay loans. In some cases, these former student’s rent payments, car payments, general living expenses, and loan payments exceed their take-home pay.  Recent data from a variety of different jobs indicated that 2018 college grads would earn an average salary of $50,400, up 2.8% from $49,000 in 2017. In many non-technical fields, the salaries are many times lower, averaging around $38,000.00.

This college degree generation is looking for student loan repayment assistance. Student loan forgiveness is sometimes available. Two of the most popular types of student loan forgiveness are Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness. In many federal bank-related loans the student cannot file for bankruptcy.  

The average college tuition cost ranges from $10,500 for an in-state university to $35,500 for an elite private university. This does not count room and board and general spending money.  Without scholarships, grants and fee waivers the average college student will be looking at a total of $22,000 for a yearly in-state university and the total yearly cost of $50,000 for private schools. In talking with one DeKalb County family, the total cost for their daughter to attend Iowa State University for four years was $120,000.00 (that included some academic scholarships and grants).

Not to discourage all students from attending college, there are a variety of scholarships, grants, awards and other options for assistance. Many colleges are offering lower in-state tuition to encourage HS Seniors to attend to fill the ranks and classes. There are work-study programs. There are unique needs for some college curriculums to fulfill their mission, ie: special sports (golf, tennis), music (unique instruments; oboe, cello, opera, harp), ROTC. There are also independent companies that assist families with future funding. Some states offer funding saving packages redeemable when the student reaches college age.

College graduates can and generally earn more money because they are qualified to take on the higher paying positions in corporations, requiring select skills. Graduates with a Ph.D., PsyD or Master’s will make more than a graduate with just a bachelor’s degree. Select fields are paying premium for qualified graduates. 

This growing concern is becoming a major topic of interest for select colleges and universities that want to see graduates succeed. If college graduates are saddled with major debt for years after graduating there are little opportunities for this generation to give back to their school with donations and sometimes verbal support. Two of the more elite schools are addressing this concern by pursuing a new endowment program that will help pay off student loans. Notre Dame is looking at a five billion dollar campaign so that no student will be heavily burdened with debt and can become a more productive graduate with limited money worries. Northwestern University (Evanston-Big 10 School) is looking at a similar three billion dollar program. Colleges are thinking outside the box to both gain the number of students to attend their college and ways to make it more affordable.

Side Bar: The future of technical and trade schools are seeing new needs and growth.

The Incredible Rise of Student Loan Debt in America

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