The Class of 2015 Has More Student Loan Debt Than Any Class in History — Again (Sigh)
If you're set graduating from college this year, congratulations! And also, I hate to have to be the one to tell you that the Class of 2015 has the most student loan debt in history. Like I said, I'm really sorry. But on the bright side, the Class of 2014 was the most indebted college class in history last year, so if that pattern continues, the 2016 kids will take the title from you eventually. Of course, that still doesn't mean your actual student loan debt will go down, but never mind that!
According to government data published by Edvisors.com, a website that provides resources for students looking to finance their education, the average graduate in 2015 will have about $35,000 in student loan debt — which is more than double what it was in the late nineties. Average student loan debt in 1998? $15,000. Even taking inflation into account, that's a huge increase.
It's especially a lot of money when you consider that the average starting salary for the class of 2014 was about $48,000 a year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. So $35,000 is a lot of debt to be saddled with when you're still just starting out in the job market, and once interest starts kicking in, things could out of control fast.
Really, it's no wonder student loans are bad for your health.
Plus, not only is the total amount of student loan debt up, but the number of students taking out loans has also increased dramatically. Ten years ago, about 64 percent of bachelor's degree recipients had student loan debt when they graduated. In the early 1990s it was less than half. Today, the number is 71 percent.
Overall, the numbers suggest that college is still, in most cases, a good investment. College graduates still make more on average in every field than the average high school graduate with the same amount of experience. But that doesn't mean that having so much student loan debt is good for people, or for our society. Not only is the stress of student loans bad for a person's health but can also affect their personal life choices, such as when to have children — or whether you can afford kids at all. It can discourage people from taking other risks like starting their own business or from buying a house or a car. It's just not good for anyone.
Except, I guess, whoever's cashing in on all that interest.
And yet student loan debt is not going anywhere. The amount of debt and the number of graduates in debt has only been increasing and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. So Class of 2015, I'm not going to lie, you're not in great shape. But you at least can take comfort in the schadenfreude of the future class of 2016. Boy, those guys are screwed.