Poll: Are Higher Education Costs Crushing Grads With Debt?

It's costing more to get a college education. So students and families are going deeper into debt. Is there a problem and, if so, should it be solved by individuals, industry or government?

To get a good job get a good education, or so the saying went.

But getting a college education leaves many students saddled with debt.

That's the thrust of a cleverly-titled story in Time Magazine, "I Owe U," that outlines the dimensions of the crisis:

"Total U.S. student-loan debt, which exceeded credit card debt for the first time last year, is on track to hit $1 trillion this year."

For students who go overboard with debt, Time had a sober warning:

"It's nearly impossible to discharge federal or private student-loan debt in bankruptcy."

Yet the average graduate is carrying more debt.

A report issued by the non-profit Project on Student Debt found that:

Nationwide, average debt for graduating seniors with loans rose from $18,650 in 2004 to $23,200 in 2008, or about 6 percent per year.

The think tank had some good news for California -- for once we're on the low end of the scale.

The project calculates that California graduates have an average indebtedness of $17,326, which ranks them 44th in terms of debt burden.

A majority of California students also graduate without significant debt. Or as the project reported the numbers, only 48 percent of students here had significant debt, which made ours the 43rd ranked state by that measure.

But the rising cost of education and the fear of going into debt may be causing young Californians to think twice about going on to college.

During the recent School in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, organizer Stephanie Olague said she was worried about being able to afford college.

"But my future depends on going to college," said Olague, a senior.

Budget cuts in Sacramento won't make it easier for today's high schoolers.

The University of California's nine campuses already have tuitions ranging from $11,124 to $12,150, while California State University campuses cost about $6,000, according to an analysis in the San Francisco Chronicle that predicts more tuition hikes to come.

So student debt is rising. So are college costs.

The high-tech economy depends on a highly educated workforce. And public policy groups have been warning for years that the state is heading for a shortfall in college graduates.

We have a problem.

Who bears the major responsibility for solving it: students and families, government, industry or all of the above?


Fran October 27, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Does the actual college or learning center fall into the category of "industries that rely on graduates" ?
Milan Moravec October 27, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Discrimination against Californians by University of California. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) displaces Californians qualified for public university education at Cal. for a $50,600 payment by a foreign student. The need for transparency at UC Berkeley has never been so clear. UC Berkeley, # 70 Forbes ranking, is not increasing enrollment. Birgeneau accepts $50,600 FOREIGN students at the expense of qualified instate Californians. UC Regent Chairwoman Lansing and President Yudof both agree to discriminate against Californians for the admission of foreigners. Birgeneau, Yudof, Lansing need to answer to Californians. Opinions make a difference; email UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu
Tom Abate (Editor) October 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM
The increasing reliance on foreign students is part of this. They pay full freight and the schools like that. Fran, I meant tech & biotech and the so-called STEM industries. But I see your point.
David October 28, 2011 at 12:45 PM
university spending makes the federal/state and local govts look like pikers in terms of blowing money. The UC system has larded up so that now there's one "administrator" per every faculty member. UCSD let 3 top professors go to (where else?) Texas over salary, claiming that it had no money to match the other offers, but they're spending $500,000 on their VP of "Diversity" and millions on his 17 person staff. The bubble is deflating. New college grad incomes are down 10% over the past decade, but college costs have more than doubled. Good luck sustaining that.
Milan Moravec November 06, 2011 at 04:07 AM
UC President Yudof, Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau($450,000 salary) dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting & freezing pay & benefits for chancellors & reforming pensions & the health benefits. They said such faculty reforms “would not be healthy for UC”. Exodus of faculty, administrators? Who can afford them and where would they go? We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system & the state to stop cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises & huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues & individual Californians’ income.


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