Why are so many students in debt?
Financial experts say the American student-loan crisis has been one of the greatest failures of capitalism since it was instituted in the 1920s.
A growing number of graduates are now burdened with debt, the cost of college and a mounting debt load that can’t be easily paid off, said Andrew Kreisberg, a senior vice president at consulting firm Compass Point.
Students in debt are now more likely to drop out than students who graduate with a degree in a similar field, said Kreisbrugger.
The U.S. student loan crisis was first addressed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who instituted a 10-year moratorium on new student loans during the Great Depression.
Today, the nation’s student loan debt is about $1.9 trillion, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Responsible Lending.
“This has been a crisis for the economy, and now it’s impacting the entire country,” Kreisberger said.
Nearly half of all student loan borrowers have no debt, and half of them have been paying off loans for 10 years or more, the report found.
While the average amount of debt is less than $40,000, the average debt burden is higher for some groups.
For white, non-Hispanic college students, the median amount of student loan debts is $1,500.
Many of the highest-earning borrowers, those earning $100,000 or more annually, are graduating with debt.
That makes their debt burdens more manageable, Kreisber said.
“They’re not going to go into the workforce and struggle to pay off their debt,” he said.
“But the people who are struggling the most, those with the highest debts, those who are in debt to the tune of $200,000 and more, are those with higher incomes and have been making the most money.”
The number of Americans with student loans is projected to surpass $1 trillion by the end of 2021, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Kreisberg expects that number to rise as the student loan problem continues to worsen.
He predicts that about 70% of all Americans who have student loans are in default on their loans.
Some experts predict that the average student loan borrower will owe more than $1 million by 2022, according a recent report by the Consumer Federation of America.
At the same time, there are many Americans who are paying off their loans and have a low debt burden.
And there is a growing consensus among student loan servicers that most borrowers can pay their debt off without going into debt, Kreissberg said.
For example, the Department of Education says nearly half of borrowers are able to repay their debt with their income and more than 60% of borrowers who have outstanding balances can do so within six months, according an email the department sent to borrowers last week.
Student loan borrowers can also earn income while they are in school, and the number of borrowers paying off student loans has increased, according for example to a new survey by the Education Department.
“Student loan debt will likely grow over time and will continue to rise, as we can see from the recent announcement by the Federal Reserve that they will begin lowering interest rates later this year,” Kreissbrugg said.
In addition to the rising student debt, students are facing increasing health costs.
The average amount for a bachelor’s degree in nursing is now $30,800, the highest it has been in more than 50 years, according data from the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics.
About half of the costs associated with college are health care costs, such as copayments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
More than a third of all college students are still uninsured, according K-12 data from federal and state agencies.
In many states, more than a quarter of students do not have health insurance, and a majority of them are not covered by their parents’ plans, the American Association of University Women and the U of L Student Association said in a report published last year.