As a country, we have reached a critical point within our system of higher education. In the past three decades, the cost of attaining a college degree has increased more than 1,000 percent. Two-thirds of students who earn four-year bachelor’s degrees are graduating with an average student loan debt of over $25,000, and a whole 10 percent of borrowers now graduate owing more than $54,000 in loans.
As a result, student debt in America now totals more than $1 trillion, and there’s no clear ceiling in sight. This debt often burdens entire families for decades and can stunt the very economic mobility that higher education is designed to offer.
The next two years will be critical in the fight for access and success in higher education. Looming are annual Pell Grant shortfalls, rampant defunding of public education, privatization of financing, egregious abuses by the for-profit college and lending industries, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, increases in the cost of college and record student debt.