04/10/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dartmouth Slashes Staff, Lobbyists Thwart Student Loan Relief

In a dramatic move to reduce its $100 million deficit, Dartmouth College announced a plan to increase tuition, reinstate student loan programs and lay off 76 non-faculty staff members, according to Business Week:

Dartmouth will raise annual tuition and fees 4.6 percent, to $52,275, and reinstitute a loan requirement for financial-aid recipients whose families make more than $75,000 a year, beginning with new students in 2011, the university said.

Meanwhile, students across the country still struggle under the weight of their loan obligations. In his Jan. 27 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pledged relief for students carrying substantial loan burdens by increasing Pell Grants, revamping the federal loan repayment program and giving tax credits to those paying tuition.

But a recent report in the New York Times indicated that change might not be around the corner. The article said that Obama's plans for simplifying student aid are under siege from bank-industry lobbyists and subject to ongoing turmoil within the Democratic party:

House and Senate aides say that the administration's plan faces a far tougher fight than it did last fall, when the House passed its version. The fierce attacks from the lending industry, the Massachusetts election that cost the Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and the fight over a health care bill have all damaged the chances for the student loan measure, said the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

According to the Project on Student Debt, the average student debt is $23,200 -- though a New York Times blog reports that number to be as high as $33,050. How in debt are you? And have you had trouble paying off that debt?