How many college students are “deep” in debt, and what does “deep” in debt mean?
In 2007-2008, two-thirds (65.6%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and some debt—the average student loan debt among graduating seniors was $23,186 (excluding PLUS Loans but including Stafford, Perkins, state, college and private loans).
Let’s compare that to the student loan I graduated with in 1973 when I earned my BA in journalism. It took me more than a decade to pay that loan off and eventually I worked two jobs for three years to do it.
I did not complain, moan or groan about it.
In fact, I considered myself an adult responsible for the money I borrowed after my GI Bill ran out so I could finish my college education—it took me five years to graduate, not four and although I worked part time jobs for the first three years I attended college, I decided to focus 100% on my studies the last two years and took out more than one student loan before I graduated.
In 1973, that student loan was $7,000. Compared to today’s average student loan debt of $23,186, it looks as if my student loan was a bargain.
If you check the CPI Inflation Calculator, you will discover that $7,000 in 1973 had the same buying power as $36,178.96 in 2012.
How about a few more comparisons—in January 1975, the unadjusted average home value in the united States was $39,500—in January 2011 that average had increased to $275,700—a 700% increase. Source: US Census
Note: In 1975, my $7,000 student loan equaled about 18% of the value of the average house in America. However, the average student loan today is only 8.5% of the average value of a house in America.
How about the price comparison of a car, average wages, cost for a gallon of gas, loaf of bread, and hamburger meat?
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.
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