Debt is a part of life for most Americans. But, how much student loan debt is normal? And, how do most people shoulder the expense as they go about the business of paying it off?
It doesn’t feel good to owe. However, it’s not unusual to have student loan debt for years after graduation. A recent report from Comet, which collected responses from 1,007 people using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, found that the average student loan debt is $27,571.
College is increasingly costly
Student loan debt is common for good reason. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent decades. In fact, tuition has gone up 163 percent over the course of the last three decades. The average cost of tuition for a private nonprofit four-year institution during the 1987-1988 school year was $15,160 (in 2017 dollars). Last year, during the 2017-2018 school year, it was $34,740.
It costs a pretty penny to get an education these days. However, most experts still agree that it’s financially beneficial to do so. On average, college graduates can expect to earn about a million dollars more than non-grads over the course of their lifetime. So, even though it costs a lot to attend, it pays to go to college. It’s no wonder so many American find themselves shouldering the burden of student loan debt.
Debt is the rule not the exception
According to the results of this survey, 85 percent of Americans currently carry debt of some kind. Credit card debt was the most common. But, almost one-third (30.1 percent) of respondents reported student loan debt.
Managing student loan payments while trying to launch a career isn’t easy. This report found that 23.6 percent of those carrying a student loan had been delinquent on debt payments at one time or another. Many respondents (44.8 percent of women with a loan debt and 46.4 percent of men) said that they regretted their student loan debt.
Women tend to carry slightly more student loan debt than men. This is an additional burden for them to bear as they cross over into the working world where they also struggle for equal pay and advancement opportunities. Women carry an average student loan debt of $30,716. Men’s average student loan debt is $24,323. For both genders, students loans accounted for the second largest share of individual debt, behind only mortgage debt.
It pays to plan
This can all be a little intimidating if you’re considering investing in higher education. But, don’t be discouraged. Doing your homework can help you to make the best choice for you.
Of course, the return on investment on a college education varies considerably depending on the institution and career field. Be sure to check out PayScale’s College ROI Report to research the schools and programs on your radar.
If you feel driven to attend college, you shouldn’t let fear over student loan debt stop you. Attending college comes with a host of rewards. A college degree isn’t just linked with higher pay. It’s associated with higher rates of job security and better health, too.
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