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Student Debt Climbs Again as Experts Hint at Impending Crisis

Common Dreams staff

Photo: Reuters/Keith Bedford

Two-thirds of US college students graduated with substantial student loan debt in 2011, with an average debt of $26,600, making up a 5 percent increase from the year before, according to a new report; however, these statistics only represent a fraction of the total picture of student loan debt in the country.

The report, conducted by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), pooled data from voluntary reports from 1,057 four-year, non-profit colleges, and did not include data from most for-profit colleges. For-profit colleges tend to be far more costly than other institutions and have been known as prominent sources of student debt.

Regardless, according to the data that was included, at 64 schools of those examined, more than 90 percent of students graduated with debt. Average debt totals varied from school to school and state to state.

The report also found:

  • Private (non-federal) student loans that have far fewer borrower protections and regulation accounted for on-fifth of student debt.
  • Average debt levels from state to state, range from $17,250 in Utah to $32,450 in New Hampshire.
  • Average debt at individual schools varies from $3,000 to $55,250.
  • The percentage of graduates with debt varies between between 12 percent to 100 percent depending on the college.

A recent report by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned that the crippling student loan debt situation, including predatory lending practices, closely resembles that of the housing mortgage bubble burst which resulted in the 2008 financial crisis.

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