July 31, 2014

High costs of student debt (AUDIO)

The high costs of student debt in Wisconsin are having a measurable impact on the state’s economy, according to research from the One Wisconsin Institute. Scot Ross, the group’s executive director,  said they surveyed nearly 2700 state residents. “The average debt per student in Wisconsin is nearly $25,000,” said Ross. That’s the 15th highest rate in the nation, and 67 percent of graduating students in the state will have some form of debt.

The average four year graduate reported student loan payments of 350 dollars a month which is paid back over a period of 18.7 years. Ross said that’s money not being spent on things like cars and homes. “That’s over $60,000 being paid back in interest, that is lost to the Wisconsin economy.

The nation’s trillion dollars in student debt isn’t just about young people. Anne Johnson with the national group Campus Progress cited some surprising numbers on that. While the bulk of student debt is held by people under age age of 40, fifteen percent of it is held by persons over the age of 50.

AUDIO:  Anne Johnson (4:20)

The growth of private student loans, as opposed to government loans, is seen as a primary driver of the student debt crisis. Johnson said it’s important for students to make sure they’re getting all the government loans for which they’re eligible, and to make every effort to graduate on time. She suggests allowing student loan holders to refinance as one of several ways to alleviate the crisis.