It has been said that having a college degree today is like having a high school diploma twenty years ago—virtually mandatory. While that may or may not be true, what is known is that college is something that figures into a majority of young people’s post-high school plans. But as the cost of tuition rises (while income more or less stays the same), people are scrambling to find ways to pay for their education.
Fifty years ago, a year at a top-notch American private university cost less than $5,000. Today, the price tag is close to $50,000. Adjusted for inflation, a college education doesn’t cost a lot more than it did in the 1960s. But that doesn’t matter when you look at “real dollars” – it’s almost impossible for most families to come up with that type of money on their own. Even a public college education is out of the reach of many students.
As of 2015, more than 40 million Americans have student debt. To put that in perspective, the population of Americans with student loans is greater than the entire populations of Australia, Canada, and 200 other countries. So if you are stuck with what feels like a mountain of student debt, do not think you are alone—40 million of your fellow Americans are in the exact same situation.