College is becoming more difficult for the middle class to afford

Lynn Russo Whylly's picture

Concerning economic trends are beginning to undermine access to higher education — America’s golden ticket to the middle class. The cost of college has vastly outpaced the growth of the economy; in 2012, the total debt from student loans exceeded both credit card and auto loans.

This generation is paying for college in unprecedented ways. Loans and debt have become the norm. And the idea that a college degree guarantees a middle-class job and financial security is “six feet under — it’s dead and gone,” UW alumna Julia said.

Julia graduated from the UW in 2012 with a degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and $30,047 in student loans. To help keep her living costs down, she is living with her parents, who also took on $80,000 in loans to help their daughter pay for school.

Every weekday, Julia commutes an hour and a half from her home in Puyallup, Wash., to the UW. She works at the UW studying rhododendrons, the state flower of Washington. Julia pays more than $400 in loan payments every month.

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