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Student Loans For Kindergarten, High School On The Rise

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KINDERGARTEN STUDENT LOANS
More parents are taking out loans to finance their children's private school education for kindergarten through 12th grade. | AP

As if the student loan debt burden wasn't troubling enough, some parents are saying, "Bring on the debt!"... even though their kids haven't even learned to read.

That's right: cash-strapped parents who want to send their young ones to private schools are taking out loans to pay for grade school, according to SmartMoney. And demand is growing.

Your Tuition Solution, one of the largest providers of loans for K-12 education, reported that the amount of money parents requested is up 10 percent from last year, and that the company is on track to finance $20 million in loans for the 2012-2013 school year, SmartMoney reports. Demand is increasing fast enough that First Marblehead, another pre-college lender, has returned to the market after exiting it in 2008, according to SmartMoney.

As more parents turn to loans to finance private education, school tuition is increasing, furthering the demand for the loans. Over the past 10 years, the median price of first grade at private schools has increased 35 percent nationally, as compared to a 24 percent price hike at Ivy League colleges, according to the New York Times.

Ten years ago, the median tuition for 12th grade at a private school was $14,583. Today, that number has skyrocketed to $24,240, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. Stunningly, in New York City, some of the city's most elite private high schools are poised to break the $40,000 tuition line this year, surpassing Harvard's $36,305 price tag, reports the New York Times.

The tuitions are "outrageous," said Dana Haddad, a private admissions consultant, in an interview with the New York Times. "People don't want to put a price tag on their children's future, so they are willing to pay more than many of them can afford."

It's a dangerous gamble, as Americans are already struggling under mounting student loan debt. Last week, officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Agency announced that total student debt outstanding is now more than $1 trillion. Student debt is rising not only because of a commiserate increase in tuition, but also because in recent years more Americans have turned to college to flee the lousy labor market, reports the Wall Street Journal.

But with that debt comes sacrifices, explained Rohit Chopra, student-loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at a banking conference in Austin. "First-time homebuyers are a substantial part of the housing market. Instead of saving for a down payment, these borrowers are sending big [student loan] payments every month."

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