RSS
The student loan 'financial disaster': By the numbers
The nation's student loan debt now outpaces total credit card debt... and it's only getting worse
Students who took out loans and graduated from college last year have an average debt of $24,000.
Students who took out loans and graduated from college last year have an average debt of $24,000.
CC BY: Nazareth College
T

he good news: More students are going to college. The bad news: More students are taking out loans to do so. Last June, for the first time ever, Americans' student loan debt outstripped their credit card debt. This year, total student loan debt is expected to cross the $1 trillion mark. "This is a financial disaster for the next generation," says Gerri Willis at Fox Business. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers:

$833 billion
Total student loan debt in June 2010, when it first exceeded total credit card debt, according to Finaid.org

$826.5 billion
Total credit card debt in June 2010

$903.6 billion
Total estimated student loan debt today

2/3
Share of bachelor's degree recipients who graduated with debt in 2008

Less than half
Share who graduated with debt in 1993

$24,000
Average amount owed by indebted college students who graduated last year. "Default rates are rising, especially among those who attended for-profit colleges," says Tamar Lewin in The New York Times. "In some circles, student debt is known as the anti-dowry."

9
Approximate percent of those enrolled in higher education institutions who attend for-profit colleges

6
Percent that college costs have risen, every year, over the past decade. "Today's college student can expect to still be paying down loans when THEIR kids go to college," says Gerri Willis at Fox Business.

At least $60,000
Amount of student loan debt that President Obama says both he and the First Lady each had when they finished school. "We did not finish paying [our student loans] off until probably we'd been married for at least eight years, maybe nine."

$1 trillion
Total amount that student loan debt is expected to reach this year

$2,853.88  
Rate at which the aggregate student loan debt is growing every second. "We're digging a fast hole," says Dan Kadlec at BNET, though "it's not as dramatic as the national debt."

$14 trillion
Approximate size of the national debt

Sources:  Finaid.org, New York Times (2), Fox Business, BNET, ABC News

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week