Student debt has topped $1.5 trillion.
On Monday, White House senior adviser and nepotism poster child Ivanka Trump unveiled a proposal to limit the kinds of loans grad students and the parents of undergrads can take out to pay for education. The logic is that by providing fewer ways for students to pay for their tuition, it will eventually help drive tuition costs down, a convoluted approach that puts pressure on borrowers instead of on schools directly.
This sort of thinking makes sense coming from an hotel heiress who insists being born into absurd wealth is a disadvantage in life, and whose father regularly lied about his net worth to secure loans himself. It’s also far less ambitious than, say, working to bring down the interest rates on student loans, which are set to rise for the second year in a row.
Some fun facts about debt: Millennials carry, on average, about $36,000 in debt. That’s certainly a lot, but, according to a study by Northwestern Mutual, it’s also pretty much the same as the averages for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. The difference is that while for the older generations the biggest source of debt is from mortgages, for millennials it’s from personal education loans.
Collectively, 44 million borrowers owe a total $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, an increase of more than 300 percent since 2004, and the rates on student loans specifically are markedly higher than other kinds. Even if those figures don’t affect you directly, such widespread, massive debt is a drag on the economy overall, and the Federal Reserve found earlier this year that it was causing a decline in home ownership. In theory, Congress and the White House should be motivated to do something about the crisis.
The move also comes after the Trump administration unveiled its latest budget, which calls to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It’s a program that relieves borrowers of their remaining student debt after 10 years of working in public service, and education secretary Betsy DeVos has been steadily working to hamstring it since her appointment. Now, Donald Trump just wants it scrapped entirely. He would need to get the Democrat-controlled House on board. But, like most presidential budgets, it’s meant to convey the administration’s values, which, yet again, is a middle finger to non-rich students and their families.
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