For all this time I thought I had $20,000 in student loans. According to my financial aid summary that I just received, however, I owe $19,000. It’s like getting a gift I haven’t been expecting. I guess my loan obligation puts me directly in line with the average college graduate. The American Council on Education has more in-depth information on amount of debt from different types of institutions and degree programs.
Also check out this 2004 report (pdf) from ACE about debt burden. It might be a bit dated as the data is from the 1990s. The report concludes that in general debt burden for students receiving their baccalaureate degree in the 1990s was manageable and unchanged at 7 percent. However, if borrowing levels continue to increase, interest rates rise, or recent graduate salaries decline, debt burden will increase.
According to an interesting article from the New York Times, apparently families equate the price of tuition with the quality of education – so that some colleges have increased their tuition (and aid) to attract more applicants.
Lucie Lapovsky, a consultant who was once president of Mercy College in New York, conducted a study asking students to choose between a college charging $20,000 and offering no aid, and one charging $30,000 and offering a $10,000 scholarship. Students chose the pricier option. “Americans seem to like college on sale,” Dr. Lapovsky said.