2011: Student Loan Debt > $1 Trillion

Graphy showing annual student loan amounts (in billions) adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars. Sources: USA Today, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Report

According to an article on USAToday.com, this year total outstanding student loans will exceed $1 trillion. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that this year Americans owe more for their student loans than they do on credit cards. Over the past five years, student loan debt has doubled, and when you adjust for inflation, students are still borrowing twice what they were ten years ago. Many students and people already in the workforce seeking further education are finding that the large amounts of money they’re borrowing puts an even larger burden on them when trying to find that first job. Not only does the burden weigh down young people first easing into adult-life after college, but it also weighs the future economy down. Mark Kantrowitz, a publisher of FinAid.org, explains that students who borrow large amounts of money and have trouble paying it off end up delaying life’s big events, such as “buying a car, buying a home, getting married and having children.” Additional statistics show that defaults (when you’re more than nine months behind on loan payments) also increased from 6.7% to 8.8% between 2007 and 2009, respectively.

The Breakdown:

Money is extremely tight these days, and student loans are no joking matter. College is a serious life-long investment with huge payoffs, but some costs as well. When deciding on a college to attend, you want to keep in mind the price tag. It might be awesome to attend a school with recliners in every classroom and 5-star cuisine in the cafeteria, but you have to decide if you really feel like paying for it for the next 10+ years of your life. Okay, okay…so there is no such school (if you DO find a school like this, let me know and I’ll enroll myself again)…but the point is that you have to be intelligent about your selection and decide if you’d rather attend a good in-state school for a reasonable price, or attend an out-of-state school for triple the cost. Both are great decisions, you just have to be prepared for the consequences later on. My suggestion? Start looking for scholarships ASAP!

Your Opinion:

Are you drowning in student loan debt? Have you found a way to save money and pay off some of your loans? Did you apply for any scholarships? Comment in the box below!



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