- Student-loan debt in the US is at an all-time high.
- The consequences ofstudent-loan debt have created a domino effect —millennials are delaying life milestones because they can’t afford them.
- Democratic presidential candidates have proposed policy solutions to offset the cost ofcollege.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
America is suffering from astudent-loan debt crisis.
While wages have increased by 67% since 1970, according to aStudent Loan Hero report, college tuition has increased at an evenfaster rate. Consequently, student debt has reached record levels.
It’s part of theGreat American Affordability Crisis— coupled with a fallout from the recession and a high cost of living, student-loan debt has made it difficult for millennials to save and has forced them to delay major milestones like getting married, buying a house, and having kids.
Democratic presidential candidates have beenproposing policy solutions to offset the cost of college. Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a $1.25 trillion plan to forgive most existing student-loan debt and provide universal free college.John Delaney,Seth Moulton, and Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand have proposed student debt forgiveness or subsidized college for students who go into national service.
Meanwhile, Sens.Bernie Sanders andAmy Klobuchar, Rep.Eric Swalwell, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have offered their own proposals to reduce the cost of college and student loan burdens.
Here are 10 facts that show just how dire student-loan debt in America really is.
1. The national total student debt is now over $1.5 trillion.
Theaverage student loan-debt per graduating student in 2018 who took out loans is $29,800,according to Student Loan Hero.
2. College tuition has more than doubled since the 1980s.
From the late 1980s to 2018, the cost of an undergraduate degree increased by 213% at public schools and 129% at private schools, adjusting for inflation, according toStudent Loan Hero, citing stats fromThe College Board.
During that time frame, tuition rose from $3,190 to $9,970 annually for public schools and from $15,160 to $34,740 for private schools.
Wages, meanwhile, have increased by 67% since 1970, according to aStudent Loan Hero report.
3. Three million senior citizens in the US are still paying off their student loans.
Young people aren’t the only ones paying off their debt. More than 3 million Americans aged 60 and older owe more than $86 billion in unpaid student loans,reported INSIDER’s Kelly McLaughlin, citing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) dataseen by CBS News.
To pay it off, they’re turning to their Social Security benefits.
4. As of May 2018, 101 people in the US owe at least $1 million each in student loans, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing the Education Department.
Costs for professional degrees are rising, too. Five years ago, only 14 people in the US owed $1 million or more each on their federal student loans,The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the Education Department. As of 2018, that count had increased to 101 people.
Interest rates for graduate students have increased by more than 6% from 2004 to 2012, according to The Journal.
Consider Mike Meru, a 37-year-old orthodontist who owed $1,060,945 in student loans as of May 2018. He’s expected to face a $2 million loan balance in the next two decades.
Meru’s situation shows that despite high salaries, becoming a doctor, dentist, or even a lawyerisn’t the path to wealth it once was.
5. Black families carry more debt than white families and are more likely to default on their loans.
Black graduates default on their loans, meaning they do not make a payment for 270 days,at five times the rate of white graduates. They are more likely to default than white college dropouts.
A recentWall Street Journal report found that graduates of historically black colleges had 32% more debt than students at other colleges and that most had not paid off any debt in their first few years out of school.
Carrying student loans keeps thewealth gap between black and white families startlingly wide: With student debt, young white families have 12 times the amount of wealth as black ones. Eliminating debt lessens the divide to just five times as much wealth.
6. As many as 40% of borrowers could default on their student loans by 2023.
A 2018 report from theBrookings Institution followed students who were paying loans up to 20 years after graduation. The report found that the rate at which people default on their loans continues to rise between 12 and 20 years after graduation.
By analyzing the rate of default 20 years after graduation for the those who started college in the years 1995 and 2003, the report predicted that nearly 40% of borrowers could default on their loans by 2023.
7. Of consumers filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, 32% carry student loan debt.
Of that group, student-loan debtcomprised 49% of their total debt on average,according to a new LendEDU study.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is liquidation bankruptcy for people with limited incomes who can’t pay back all or a portion of their debt. The goal is to discharge the debt.
Student-loan debt, however, is generallynon-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Read more:An astounding number of bankruptcies are being driven by student loan debt
8. Student-loan debt is the reason 13% of Americans said they decided not to have kids.
That’s among those ages 20 to 45 years old,reported Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz, citing asurvey from The New York Times.
Student loan borrowers are also delaying or refraining from buying a house because they can’t afford it.
“I don’t feel comfortable taking a loan on a house while having student loans,” Boone Porcher, a supply-chain consultant who owes $32,645 after five years at a public university,previously told Business Insider.
As another graduate, a water-resources engineer who graduated from a public university with roughly $25,000 in debt,told Business Insider, “I feel like buying a house is a total pipe dream at this point in my life, but I’m tightening my belt as much as possible to save for a down payment right now.”
9. Some have drawn parallels between the student debt crisis and the subprime mortgage disaster.
The rate at which student-loan borrowers can’t pay their debt looks a lot like the rate at which people could not pay their mortgages during the2008 financial crisis.
As of 2017, default and 90-day delinquency rates for student loans hovered at 11%, according to a report byCiti Global Perspectives & Solutions. Delinquency rates during the mortgage crisis peaked at 11.5% in 2010.
The report found that those with lower debt are actually more likely to default, since those with more debt tend to have degrees that earn them higher-paying jobs. Those with less initial debt, meanwhile, likely dropped out without a degree to get them a better-paying job.
That’s not the only parallel between today’s student loan crisis and the last decade’s financial crisis:US consumer debt altogether is higher than it was in 2008.
10. Nearly 50% of millennials who have or have had student-loan debt think college wasn’t worthwhile.
When asked whether it was worth attending college based on their current financial situation and their student loans, about 21% of respondents said “definitely not” and about 23% said “probably no,”according to an INSIDER andMorning Consult survey.
Unsurprisingly, respondents who are still paying off theirstudent-loan debt feel worse about having gone to college than millennials who have already paid off their debt.
SEE ALSO:College is more expensive than it's ever been, and the 5 reasons why suggest it's only going to get worse
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