The 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:
Total student loan debt in June 2010, when it first exceeded total credit card debt, according to Finaid.org
Total credit card debt in June 2010
Total estimated student loan debt today
Share of bachelor's degree recipients who graduated with debt in 2008
Less than half
Share who graduated with debt in 1993
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."
Approximate percent of those enrolled in higher education institutions who attend for-profit colleges
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."
Total amount that student loan debt is expected to reach this year
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."
Approximate size of the national debt
Sources: Finaid.org, New York Times (2), Fox Business, BNET, ABC News
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- Deficit scolds are the most crazed ideologues in America
- 7 language habits that reveal your age
- A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- The disturbing lessons of Arizona's un-American execution
Subscribe to the Week