Some schools offer more value to students than others, even when those schools are similar based on traditional rankings standards. The Brookings Institution looked at colleges and universities in Illinois to determine their "value-added" -- how useful it is for a student to attend a particular school over a similar school.
Much attention has rightly been paid to reforming student loans, such as making sure borrowers can refinance high-interest loans and expanding income-based payment options. These programs, though they would help millions of struggling borrowers, aren't a tourniquet, but only a bandage on a $1.2 trillion student debt crisis.
It is not possible for every student to graduate from college debt free. However, it is crucial to make smart financial decisions while still in school to limit the financial burden as much as possible, as this will have a direct and lasting impact on your financial health for the rest of your life.
As students look forward to attending school and experiencing all that college has to offer, they may not be thinking about how to properly manage their money. Making smart financial choices while in school will not only ease the burden of college debt, but also set them up for financial success beyond graduation.