Student loan debt is crippling the United States and the education system, but it’s directly influencing the day-to-day life of the borrower, who sometimes must use a significant portion of their paycheck to pay off student loans.
In 2004, student loan debt in the U.S. was $260 billion, according to Debt.org.
The Pew Research Center said in an August 2019 article that Americans owed nearly $1.5 trillion in student loans at the end of March 2019.
This is more than two times what borrowers owed a decade prior. Currently, over one-third of adults ages 18 to 29 have student loan debt. But, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of the Federal Reserve Board’s 2018 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, student loan debt is much less common for older age groups.
Twenty-two percent of 33- to 44-year-olds are in debt, while a mere 7% of people ages 45-59 said they had student loan debt.
Yes, these older age groups have had more time to pay off this debt, but the National Center for Education Statistics found that six out of 10 college seniors ages 18 to 24 took out loans in 2015-2016, which is up about 50% from the 1999-2000 academic year.
This is disheartening and shows deep flaws in the current education system. Some students can’t afford education but are still told it is the only way to attain a “successful career.”
Frankly, some with student loans don’t even see the value in their degree after graduation.
The Pew Research Center also found that 36% of 25- to 39-year-olds with “at least a bachelor’s degree and outstanding student loan debt say that the lifetime financial costs of their degree outweigh the benefits.”
And they’re more likely to be struggling financially than those who do not have student loan debt. Twenty-two percent of graduates ages 25 to 29 say they’re having a hard time getting by financially, while 11% of people without loans say it’s difficult.
Debt.org states the average cost of college tuition ranges from $9,410 for an in-state university to over $32,000 for private institutions.
On a positive note, Youngstown State University was ranked by College Consensus as the seventh most affordable university nationwide in September 2018.
YSU’s student loan default rates have decreased significantly in the past six years, according to the YSU News Center on March 29, 2019.
In 2011, student loan default rates sat at 20.3% and have consistently decreased, with rates being at 11.8% in 2016.
University administrators attributed the drop of nearly 9 percentage points to “increased focus on student success, more scholarships and keeping costs low.”
Although it’s a great triumph of the university, college still needs to be more affordable, and student loans are something that voters must focus on for the 2020 election.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is calling to eliminate student loan debt completely. According to CNN, this would have no eligibility limitations.
President Donald Trump is proposing eliminating a forgiveness program that exists for public workers. The current program cancels remaining student loans after payments have been made for 10 years.
So, please, think about this when you vote. Because this could mean the difference between no longer needing to worry about student loans crippling people’s lives or people being punished more for attending college.