From 2001 to 2011, state financing per student declined by 24 percent nationally. Over the same period, tuition costs at state schools increased 72 percent, compared with 29 percent for nonprofit private institutions, according to the College Board. Most of the cuts were due to reduced tax revenue, but the sharp drop in per-student spending also reflects a change: an increasing number of lawmakers voted to transfer more of the financial burden of college from taxpayers to students and their families.
With more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in this country, crippling debt is no longer confined to dropouts from for-profit colleges or graduate students who owe on many years of education, some of the overextended debtors in years past. As prices soar, a college degree statistically remains a good lifetime investment, but it often comes with an unprecedented financial burden.
About two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients borrow money to attend college, either from the government or private lenders, according to a Department of Education survey of 2007-8 graduates; the total number of borrowers is most likely higher since the survey does not track borrowing from family members.
By contrast, 45 percent of 1992-93 graduates borrowed money.