As tuition soars, students left holding the bag – full of debt

As tuition soars, students left holding the bag – full of debt

With the average retirement age in the U.S. steadily climbing, there are fewer job opportunites for recent graduates. That’s bad news for the 56 percent of students in Texas who are in debt, with an average of $24,030 to repay. (Patrick Kane/The Associated Press)

One expert pointed out that student debt should concern everyone because of its overall effect on the economy

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This project is the result of a collaboration between The Dallas Morning News and Reporting Texas, a program at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism. Student journalists spent several months examining unemployment and debt among millennials, and how those issues were related to higher education.

The average tuition at public 4-year Texas universities rose by almost 90 percent in the past decade. The total cost of attending college now consumes 31 percent of the median family’s income.

About 56 percent of students in Texas are in debt and the average amount they have to repay is $24,030.

The U.S. Department of Education reported in September that the two-year default rate on federal student loans had reached 10 percent, double the 4.5 percent rate in 2003.

Talib Abdullahi worked five jobs while attaining a degree in American Studies from the Univeristy of Texas at Austin. Despite financial aid and working to support himself and his mother, Abdullahi graduated with $40,000 in student loans. (Andy Jacobsohn/Staff Photographer)

I like learning. I like school. But it really is very challenging to try to do it all, trying to support myself.

T alib Abdullahi graduated in erican Studies from the University of Texas at Austin – and $40,000 in loans to pay back.

Raised by a single mother in Houston, he began working his first job when he was 9, helping a neighbor with his painting business. The decision to attend college was not the norm for a lot of his friends – many wound up in jail or victims of violence.

He was given financial aid at UT but also had to take on loans, all while working five jobs – and figuring out how to help his uninsured mother with health care bills.

I like learning. I like school. But it really is very challenging to try to do it all, trying to support myself, keeping a job and keeping up with school, said Abdullahi, who now works as operations supervisor at the Austin 360 Amphitheater/Circuit of the Americas. He tries to diligently pay his debts.

The average tuition at public 4-year Texas universities rose by almost 90 percent http://getbadcreditloan.com/payday-loans-ia/sloan in the past decade. The total cost of attending college now consumes 31 percent of the median family’s income.

As state spending on higher education has decreased and college costs have increased, college students like him in Texas – and across the nation – increasingly rely on loans to pay for tuition, housing, utilities, school supplies and even groceries. And that is adding up to a higher education crisis in America that could have lingering effects for the economy and taxpayers across the nation.

Student debt should concern every American because it has a significant impact on the overall economy, particularly on the housing and retirement markets that are so crucial to every household, said Robert Hiltonsmith, who studies education trends with Demos, a Washington think tank.

The Dallas Morning News

Historically, public colleges and universities get nearly all of their revenue from state and local funding and tuition and fees, states The Great Cost Shift Continues, a report by Demos.

So, when states cut higher education funding, schools essentially have two options for closing the gap: raise student charges – tuition, fees, room, and board – or cut salaries and services. Most states have chosen to do both since the Great Recession, implementing steep hikes in charges for tuition, room, and board and cutting thousands of course offerings and positions.

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