Student Loan Debt in America

american dreamCNN posted online last month that 40 million Americans are carrying student loan debt. Average credit card debt in American households is $15,000, but student loan debt accounts for closer to $30,000 per household.

Part of the problem is that companies are willing to accept applications for student loans without doing due diligence about the applicant’s ability to pay. Often a co-signer, a parent or other relative, also gets saddled with repaying the debt of the student. Even when they consult an attorney, they find that much of this debt cannot be bankrupted.

Some people with student loans are in their 50s, and their ability to pay will decrease the closer they move toward retirement. It doesn’t help that tuition climbs every year. Generally speaking, there’s a 5–10% increase in tuition per year at colleges and universities across the nation. That’s not including textbooks and living expenses.

The biggest issue, though, is the return on investment. Is a college education really worth the debt it will cost you over the next 25 years, especially when degrees from technical schools, for example, are much more cost effective? If you reference the Occupational Outlook Handbook, you will find many of the highest-demand jobs over the next year come out of technical or trade schools, not four-year colleges. Of course, all of this is generally speaking, and some college grads will have a completely different experience.

America is one of the only countries that has this issue with educational costs. Regardless of your stance on types of government, should post-secondary education really be causing so many Americans to fall into debt?