Meanwhile, even as federal financial aid has played a critical role in partially offsetting state cuts to higher education, this funding is threatened, according to a report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
The 2015 budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in early April would reduce Pell Grant funding by up to $125 billion over the next 10 years, freezing the maximum grant amount and restricting program eligibility.
About 56 percent of students in Texas are in debt – and the average amount they have to repay is $24,030.
What Hiltonsmith and other experts also note is that even as debts mount, universities seem insistent on either raising tuition – or refusing to lower it. Rising college enrollment rates suggest the demand for higher education is still there despite the tuition hikes.
About 56 percent of students in Texas are in debt and the average amount they have to repay is $24,030.
If you don’t make a lot of money, or you don’t have a support net like parents, having student loans is necessary, he said.
The average retirement age in the U.S. has been climbing steadily since the early 1990s. That trend is expected to continue, which could further limit opportunities in the job market for new college graduates.
Experts say that the burden of debt is worsened because a college degree does not lead to a job with a good salary as much as it once did.
Hiltonsmith estimates that $53,000 in student debt for a two-person household translates into a lifetime wealth loss of nearly $208,000, when compared with a two-person household with no debt.
Much of that loss may come from lower retirement savings. And new homeowners with a lot of debt to pay off may not be able to build up as much equity in their homes.
Many young Americans appear to be putting once-common life steps on hold. S. households after mortgages – may be one of the biggest reasons fewer young people than ever are buying cars and houses.
The U.S. Department of Education reported in September that the two-year default rate on federal student loans had reached 10 percent, double the 4.5 percent rate in 2003.
The government informs credit bureaus when a borrower fails to pay his or her loans in time, damaging the borrower’s credit history. The student then has to pay substantial interest fees on top of the actual loan payments.
Some experts worry that lawmakers are not doing enough to address the crisis – and may not be focusing enough on the biggest problem.
Legislators might think students have more credit card debt than they actually do have – meaning the legislators might think credit card debt is more of a problem than it really is, said Jim Hawkins, with the University of Houston.
Some financial aid offices at universities promote federal and private loans so much that for some students going into debt may seem like a natural part of the college experience.
Criselda Saenz, 34, a middle school teacher in Corpus Christi, graduated from the University of North Texas in 2008 with over $90,000 in student debt.
Her student loan payments are about $800 a month, roughly a quarter of her salary teaching at Haas Middle School in Corpus Christi. At the current pace, she estimates it will take her about 15 to 20 years to pay off the debt.