In 2009, the most recent data available, 67 percent of graduates had debt, averaging $24,000 per student, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to the non-profit Project on Student Debt. The numbers are even higher at private institutions.
The figures do not include the growing number of loans taken out by parents, and only limited data on for-profit colleges, where student debt is typically much higher, but relatively few institutions report it.
Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards—a first, according to FinAid.org, which has created what it calls the Student Loan Debt Clock.
The organization figures America’s student loan debt is growing at a rate of $2,853.88 per second. At this pace, it will surpass $1 trillion in 2012. And there is no sign of the pace letting up. On the contrary.
“The need to borrow has grown for all types of students at all types of schools,” says Lauren Asher, director of the Project on Student Debt. “And the amount that students are borrowing is driven by the share of cost that students and families are expected to cover after aid.”
But Asher says college costs are rising faster than family incomes and faster than grants and scholarships. A lot faster.
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