Student debt: still rising by degrees

Released: 
July 25, 2013

Student loan debt has nearly tripled in a decade as all other types of household debt decline post-recession - and now the interest rates may get tied to the market.

Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that could tie interest rates on student loans to the market. At the moment, that means lower rates, but it's a change from the fixed interest rates of the past. Republicans are happy with the change - some Democrats are not. Either way and no matter what the interest rate, the debt keeps piling up.

More students are borrowing to finance college degrees. Outstanding student debt hit $914 billion in 2012. That’s up nearly 280 percent since 2003. 14.4 percent of that debt is past due.

Student debt is now second only to mortgages as an overall household liability – eclipsing even credit card debt, which totals $672 billion. Student loans are also the only form of household debt that has increased since the recession. All other types have gone down.

The average 2012 college graduate owes $28,720 in student loans. Repayment is a problem for some as entry-level jobs are scarce. 53 percent of recent graduates are either unemployed or unable to find full-time work.

See and share our video on student loan debt. Check out “What Do Others Say?” for more perspective, then add to the discussion below. Is a college degree still worth this kind of borrowing? Should the interest rates be tied to the market, or fixed?