My dad grew up in a country that was generous and farsighted enough to see that the more its people learned, the more its people earned. So after deploying to fly a B-24 Liberator over Japan, he went to college on the GI Bill and learned enough to open his own law practice. And he earned enough to start a family, raising my siblings and me to understand that if we worked hard and gave back, there was a strong and bright future ahead.
Today, our kids aren’t getting the same bargain. The vast majority of students — 70 percent — are graduating with debt. On average, they’re carrying loan amounts big enough to buy a nice car or cover the down payment on a house. But instead of making those investments, or starting a family or a business, they’re struggling to keep up with student loan payments.
The result: Total student loan debt in our country is $1.3 trillion and growing. First-time buyers are purchasing a smaller share of houses, and people younger than 30 are starting a smaller share of businesses than at any time since the late 1980s. And the problem will only get worse. Although average tuition at a public four-year college has more than tripled over the past 30 years, a typical family’s income has barely budged. <Read more.>