Most graduates have one thing in common: student debt. Today, 70 percent of college students graduate with a significant amount of credit.
Over 44 million Americans together hold nearly $ 1.5 trillion in debt. That means about every fourth adult American pays a student loan.
When they graduate, the average student loan borrower has $ 37,172 in student loans, an increase of $ 20,000 13 years ago. With this money, the borrowers could make a down payment for a home, buy a new car or buy their own business.
As debts have increased, monthly payments have also increased. The Federal Reserve estimated that the average monthly student loan payment increased from $ 227 in 2005 to $ 393 in 2016.
These significant financial burdens affect how Americans save, spend and live their lives. The Washington Federal Reserve Board of Directors, D.C., noted that an increase in student debt has led to a decline in home ownership. A study by NerdWallet predicts that students who completed their studies in 2015 will have to postpone their retirement until the age of 75, in part because of increasing student debt burdens.
One of the main reasons for the increase in student debt is that more Americans are studying than ever before – and they have to.
Experts predict that the future labor market will require a substantial increase in skilled labor. According to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the US economy will require education beyond high school. However, the US Census estimates that only 33 percent of American adults currently hold a bachelor’s degree or more.
If the students want to meet these demands of the job market, they hit the books and take out loans.
Recent figures from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) show that students earned about 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees in the 2014-2015 school year, an increase of 32 percent from 2005 to 2015.
A 2014 study by the Brookings Institute states that “about a quarter of the student debt increase since 1989 can be directly attributed to Americans receiving more education.”
David C. Bloomfield, professor of education, law and politics at Brooklyn College and the city’s New York Graduate Center, says obtaining a college degree is still one of the wisest investments a student can make. “Completed degree programs from prestigious institutions are still the most reliable investment in future income and well-being,” he says.