37 million Americans currently have outstanding student loans, and the delinquency rate on those student loans has now reached a level never seen before. According to a new report that was just released by the U.S. Department of Education, 11 percent of all student loans are at least 90 days delinquent. That is a brand new record high, and it is almost double the rate of a decade ago. Total student loan debt exceeds a trillion dollars, and it is now the second largest category of consumer debt after home mortgages. The student loan debt bubble has been growing particularly rapidly in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003. That is a staggering figure. Millions upon millions of young college graduates are entering the “real world” only to discover that they are already financially crippled for decades to come by oppressive student loan debt burdens. Large numbers of young people are even putting off buying homes or getting married simply because of student loan debt.
So why is this happening? Well, a big part of the problem is that the cost of college tuition has gotten wildly out of control. Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has risen even more rapidly then the cost of medical care has. Tuition costs at public universities have risen by 27 percent over the past five years, and there appears to be no end in sight.
We keep encouraging our young people to take out all of the loans that are necessary to pay for college, because a college education is supposedly the “key” to their futures.
But is that really the case?
Sadly, the reality of the matter is that millions of young Americans are graduating from college only to discover that the jobs that they were promised simply do not exist.
In fact, at this point about half of all college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.
This is leading to mass disillusionment with the system. One survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.
And because so many of them cannot get decent jobs, more college graduates then ever are finding that they cannot pay back the huge student loans that they were encouraged to sign up for. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article.
Eleven percent of student loans were seriously delinquent — at least 90 days past due — in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in the first quarter of 2003, according to the report by the U.S.Education Department. Almost 30 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds aren’t employed or in school, the study found.
Everyone agrees that we are now dealing with an unprecedented student loan debt bubble, but none of our leaders seem to have any solutions.