How We Can Solve the Student Loan Debt Crisis

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In the United States, it costs far more to educate a college student than in countries such as Great Britain, France,

Germany, and Japan.1 The Federal Reserve Bank of New York revealed student loan debt ($1.19 trillion) surpasses auto loan debt ($968 billion) and credit card debt ($684 billion) in its May 2015 quarterly report on household debt and credit. If car prices had risen as fast as college tuition prices over the past three decades, the average cost of a new car would be more than $80,000.2 The average 2015 college graduate owes more than $35,000 in student loans and takes about 17 years to pay it off.

As a recent graduate of a Florida university, I’m particularly interested in this issue and recently spoke with Dr. Robert Kelchen, assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.

“Our main focus should be on the people for whom student debt is actually a very big issue,” said Dr. Kelchen. “Student loan debt mostly affects the students who have fairly small loans and left college with debt, such as from a community college or public university, and are struggling in a low-paying job, or who left college with debt and no degree.”

Currently, millennials make up about 40 percent of unemployed Americans. In relation to individuals in this age group a decade ago, when compared to the nation’s median income, millennials are now earning less.4 This has posed a frustrating challenge that has, in large part, forced many millennials to delay life decisions such as marriage, home buying, and starting a family. Higher college tuition and student loan debt make social mobility and financial security even more cumbersome for our young graduates.

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