Smart Money, Huh? American Student-Loan Debt Now Greater Than American Credit Card Debt

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Hey, creditors, leave those kids alone! All along, it turns out, they were just another brick in the massive wall of student-loan debt Americans have now acquired which -- fun fact! -- has now surpassed American credit card debt, reports to the Wall Street Journal. Which is how much, exactly? The Journal's Mary Pilon notes:
Americans owe some $826.5 billion in revolving credit, according to June 2010 figures from the Federal Reserve. (Most of revolving credit is credit-card debt.) Student loans outstanding today -- both federal and private -- total some $829.785 billion, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com.

Fun trivia facts:

  • According to Pilon, student loan debt often can't be discharged via bankruptcy. No mulligans, kids!
  • Also, if you die, guess what? You still owe them money!
  • Sometimes, as Pilon noted, this can also lead to an accumulation of debt rising at upwards of $500,000.
  • The national unemployment rate is at 9.5%, only down 0.2% from May, and only down 1.1% from December, when it was at a record high of 10.6%.
  • As of November 2008, 70% of high school graduates went on to some form of college. So those degrees aren't exactly exclusive like they were in, say, 1973. When that number was at 43%.
  • Time wondered in December if a college degree was worth less these days. In it, they noted that the average cost of tuition rose 6.5% last fall. And, shocker, according to Campus Grotto, out of the most expenses costing colleges in 2009-2010 for American undergraduates, of the top ten:

  • 10. Vassar
    5. Skidmore
    2. NYU, and
    1. Sarah Lawrence

    are all in New York.
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So, just how much -- in dollars -- do you not need an education? In March, USA Today cited a Georgetown Study taking note of the 25% of Americans with bachelors degrees who are earning less than those with two-year degrees. But whatever: the hustle's the hustle, and the ability to make money doesn't necessarily underlie success, per se.

The darkest statistic you'll read regarding any of this, though, is buried deep within that USA Today piece:

A recent national survey of high school teachers by ACT Inc., the educational testing company, found 71% agreed "completely" or "a great deal" that high school graduates need the same set of skills and knowledge whether they plan to go to college or enter the workforce, yet 42% said teachers reduce academic expectations for students they perceive as not being college-bound.

Almost half of the teachers in America think less of their students who don't want to try something else besides college, meaning that 42% of students who want to try something other than college are going to (theoretically) be at a disadvantage from the start, because educators inherently think less of them. Maybe it's because those students aren't -- literally -- buying into their profession?

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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