Private Student Loan Debt at All-Time High – Until Tomorrow

According to a recent report by the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), the 2020 class of college graduates has amassed $136 billion in private student debt. When this amount is added to the total student debt from federal student loans–about $1.8 trillion, Americans are on the hook for almost $2 trillion in student debt.

Interestingly, students in the District of Columbia had the highest average private-debt level: $51,738. Eight states in the Northeast were in the top ten for high private student debt. The average private student debt in Delaware for the class of 2020 was over $50,000.

As Cody Hounanian, Executive Director of the Student Debt Crisis Center aptly noted, the TICAS report shows that the costs of higher education have “skyrocketed and are out of control.”

But are colleges doing anything to control their costs? Not much. Higher Education thinks it should be congratulated because tuition costs rose less than the inflation rate–the first time in decades that tuition increases didn’t exceed inflation. I suppose that’s the good news of a sort, but the critical fact is that tuition costs go up every year.

TICAS’s report concluded with a list of policy recommendations, but they’re nothing to write home about.

TICAS recommends more federal grant money for low-income students, more oversight of the private student-loan industry, more loan counselors, and better advertising of income-based repayment plans.

Ho, hum!

TICAS did not recommend bankruptcy relief for student-loan debtors who are overwhelmed by the college debt. It said nothing about cracking down on the private-college industry, other than a vague recommendation to “Tighten Institutional Accountability.”

I’ve been writing about the student-loan crisis for 25 years, and I’ve read dozens of reports and policy papers by think tanks and policy centers.

Most of them recommend more money, more transparency, and more lenient income-based repayment programs. TICAS’s recommendations added nothing new.

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