The U.S. Education Department recently released numbers showing that the total amount of money borrowed by students in the 2008-2009 grew by 25%, to $75.1 billion, over the previous year. The number has been rising for many years, but this bump is the largest on record.
The deputy undersecretary of the Education Department, Robert Shireman, has said that this increase was “definitely above expectations” but was likely caused by the nation’s dire economic crisis.
According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, two out of three college students borrow money to pay for college — and their debt load is growing significantly. In 2008-2009, the average debt load was $23,186; in 1997 the average amount was $13,172.
With a growing debt load and the highest unemployment rate since 1983, recent grads face a huge challenge: How to pay off mounting debt with the salary from a low-paying job… or no job at all. According to a number of research studies, this challenge has become so great, that many grads are postponing major life events — getting married, buying a home — indefinitely.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal about how college loan debt is impacting students once they graduate.