Student Loan Debt and Inequality



If you dare, take a look at the link below. 

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That’s right. At this moment, the total U.S. Student Loan debt is over 1.2 TRILLION dollars.

This equals uh…..

Image result for a bunch of pennies

A lot of pennies.

Now, if you’re still with me and not currently checking your bank account ~ look at this link:

National Student Loan Debt Clock

This, according to Market Watch, is an actual student loan debt clock. Watch as the numbers fall up and down and up and down.

You’ll notice, both sources do provide different statistics and we may never know the exact number of student loan debt — but one thing is clear, this terrifying number is in the trillions.

In 2012 Cathy Rubin interviewed Research Professor of Education at New York University, Diane Ravitch. When it came to education and the growing number of students going into debt, she had this to say.

“Education is a basic human right and it should not be denied because of inability to pay. Young people should not be buried in debt when they finish college. We can’t expect to increase college enrollment rates if young people cannot afford to go.  I also think the government should be extremely vigilant in policing for-profit colleges, where the attrition rates are extremely high and young people drop out with heavy debt and no education.”

Student debt is not a new problem and it won’t be an old problem anytime soon but something needs to change.

According to Student Loan Hero most studies report the following information:

  • 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
  • Student loan delinquency rate of 11.1%
  • Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
  • Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203

Now, what about those loans most students are awarded in their financial aid packages? Sure, they help you afford schooling but just how helpful are they.

  • Stafford Subsidized – $266.7 billion; 28.9 million borrowers
  • Stafford Unsubsidized – $423.5 billion; 27.1 million borrowers
  • Stafford combined – $690.3 billion; 31.9 million unique recipients
  • Grad PLUS – $50.2 billion; 1.0 million borrowers
  • Parent PLUS – $74.5 billion; 3.3 million borrowers
  • Perkins – $8.0 billion; 2.7 million borrowers
  • Consolidation – $439.2 billion; 12.0 million borrowers

Diane, you are right. Young people should not be buried in debt when they finish college but the reality is, we all are and this is desperately hurting the country’s economic growth and entrenching wealth inequality.

Big Think takes a look at the work of French economist Thomas Piketty and his academic treatise, Capital in the Twenty-First Century

“The central observation of Piketty’s work is that money works differently now than ever before. Invested income has grown at a rate outpacing the rise in wages, meaning the rich get richer and the poor stay about the same (or get poorer relative to inflation). And as college tuition has grown, the loans required to sustain it become more burdensome.”

Big Think goes on to explain the chain reaction this kind of debt causes.

“Having to pay back hefty loans while looking for your first professional experience is a mentally taxing experience. It can cause undue stress and depression, which makes functioning well in a professional environment all the more difficult.

It also makes you more likely to accept positions that do not take full advantage of your qualifications, because you need a paycheck now, and complicates starting your own business, which requires difficult periods of cash-poorness.”

What do you think?