Student Debt
June 27, 2016
Is free community college a solution?

Since 2004, the average debt held by graduating college students has grown at double the inflation rate to $28,950, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Democrats and Republicans alike agree that something must be done about the student debt problem, but the two sides differ on solutions. President Obama and many Democrats on the state and national levels propose making community college free. Many also seek more government aid for student borrowers. But conservatives warn that subsidies can backfire by driving up tuition and encouraging students to spend more time in college than necessary. Instead, some Republicans suggest giving student borrowers more flexibility to refinance their loans and thus find better deals.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont attends a news conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2015 on a bill to eliminate tuition at public colleges and expand work-study programs. (Getty Images/CQ Roll Call/Tom Williams)   Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont attends a news conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2015 on a bill to eliminate tuition at public colleges and expand work-study programs. (Getty Images/CQ Roll Call/Tom Williams)

Student debt has become a trillion-dollar problem in the United States — $1.2 trillion, in fact, according to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Footnote 1

The problem is so extensive, a number of studies have found, that many college graduates delay buying homes or cars or even hold off marrying and starting families because of the post-college financial burden they carry. Footnote 2 In one 2015 survey, for instance, more than half the young adults put off buying a car or taking on a mortgage because of student debt. Footnote 3

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