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Student loan debt is at an all-time high in the U.S., growing at an unprecedented rate over the past two decades. New data shows just how student debt has outpaced other household debt like home, auto and credit card.
In data from the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel compiled by the Wall Street Journal, student loan debt in the U.S. has surged by 350 percent in the last 17 years. That’s nearly 10 times higher than the 40 percent increases in auto loans and mortgage debt. The one bright spot of good news shows how credit card debt has scaled back slightly by 15 percent since 2003.
The astronomical increase in student loan debt coincides with skyrocketing public and private university tuition over the same time period. Despite a society that essentially demands high school graduates obtain a college or trade school degree for most jobs, tuition, room and board and other college expenses only continue to go up each year. For public universities, many are forced to increase tuition due to educational budget cuts at the state government level. For private universities, an ever increasing level of competition makes it relatively easy to continue raising tuition prices.
In total, it’s reported that U.S. college students and graduates have approximately $1.5 trillion in combined student debt.
This chart shows the percent change in total household debt balance since 2003, adjusted for inflation.
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