Student Debt

November 18, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 41
Should college tuition be free?
By Tom Price


City University of New York students demonstrate for free tuition and cancellation of student debt (Getty Images/Corbis/Andrew Lichtenstein)
City University of New York students demonstrate on Nov. 12, 2015, for free tuition and cancellation of student debt. Total student debt is up almost 350 percent since 2005, which experts blame on such factors as growth in enrollment, expanded eligibility for federal loans, predatory lending and skyrocketing tuition. (Getty Images/Corbis/Andrew Lichtenstein)

A majority of college graduates are leaving school owing more than $25,000, and nearly 7 million have defaulted on their student loans. Student debt nationwide totals almost $1.3 trillion — up 350 percent since 2005. Many experts say the rise is due partly to growth in enrollment, expanded eligibility for federal loans and predatory lending. But others say student debt is growing mainly because of skyrocketing tuition. Officials at public colleges blame tuition hikes on declining state support, which fell by about 20 percent between 2001 and 2015. But critics say colleges are spending too much on administration, expensive intercollegiate athletic programs and academic programs with weak demand. Others say the easy availability of student loans encourages colleges to raise prices. Student debt became a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, with Democratic candidates promoting free college tuition and Republican candidate Donald Trump — now president-elect — proposing an income-based repayment plan and debt forgiveness after 15 years.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
College Financing
Oct. 25, 2019  College Costs
Nov. 18, 2016  Student Debt
Oct. 21, 2011  Student Debt
Jan. 25, 2008  Student Aid
Dec. 05, 2003  Rising College Costs
Nov. 20, 1992  Paying for College
May 19, 1989  What's Behind High College Price Tags
May 23, 1986  Student Aid
Aug. 14, 1981  Tuition Tax Credits
Feb. 24, 1971  College Financing
Nov. 27, 1968  Financing of Private Colleges
Mar. 25, 1959  Costs of Education
May 04, 1955  Higher Education For The Millions
College Financing and Funding
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Credit and Debt
Cost of Education and School Funding
General Employment and Labor
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Student Movements
Undergraduate and Graduate Education