Student loans were the leading cause for a substantial increase in household debt last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Thursday.
While the high balance of US student debt is not news anymore, the new record-high $1.31 trillion balance, up 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter, is another reminder of the severity of a problem that has cast a shadow over the nation in recent years.
During her confirmation hearing, now-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested a vision for higher education that might not require as much student debt.
"We need to embrace new pathways of learning," said Ms. DeVos, who has championed trade schools and for-profit online universities. "For too long, a college degree has been pushed as the only avenue for a better life. The old and expensive brick-mortar-and-ivy model is not the only one that will lead to a prosperous future."