Could Credit Card and Auto Loans Equal Student Loan Debt?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) A headline from the student loan crisis in recent years is that the growth of student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt .
It's among the findings that can be gleaned from The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) report on student loans, released on May 1. The NCSL reported an average debt-at-graduation to be $26,500 that is less than has been cited elsewhere. But another figure is worrisome: the NCSL estimates that over a million Americans will graduate with that amount of debt, out some of the roughly 1.85 million who will be awarded BA degrees this spring.
Not surprisingly, the NCLS's focus is on state spending . The NCSL, which attempts to improve the effectiveness of state legislatures according to its Website, found that tuition at four-year institutions has jumped 112% since 1990 , while state funding has fallen 10.6% nationally since 2008. The Great Recession, which in theory has ended, has led to a significant reduction in education spending, including cuts of nearly 50% in Arizona, Florida and New Hampshire. Those cuts have endured.
On average, the NCSL found that the burden is largest in many Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, a few Southeastern states and California. Some of those statesespecially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlanticare also home to the highest share of adults with bachelor's degrees.
Only two states North Dakota and Alaska have increased spending since 2008 on an inflation-adjusted, per-student basis, according to a report the NCSL references from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, due out this month.
The rise in tuition last year , though, did slow to its lowest level since the early 1980s, thanks to tuition freezes. The NCSL reports that legislators in 13 states froze tuition at their universities in 2013. Higher education funding was increased in 43 states last year--grist for the argument that the lingering effects of the recession are abating and that state tax revenues are increasing.
But this doesn't seem to have made a huge dent in student debt levels at this point. According to the study, only one state, Wyoming, had an average student debt of $18,000 or less .
The study did not isolate federal PLUS loans, which parents sign for, and have come under scrutiny by consumer advocates because of the debt trap they often create for borrowers. The report does not make a distinction between traditional four-year colleges and for-profit colleges. Students attending for-profit colleges take out a disproportionate number of student loans .