A Guide To Obama's Student Loan Plan

Ann McClure's picture
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recognizing that college students and recent graduates are facing rising tuition prices and burdensome student loan debt, President Barack Obama announced a plan that seeks to lessen the burden of paying back student loans.

Some questions and answers about student loans:

Q: How big a problem is student loan debt?

A: Total outstanding student debt has passed $1 trillion, more than the nation's credit card debt, and average indebtedness for students is rising. The College Board said Wednesday that the average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose an additional $631 this fall, or about 8 percent, compared with a year ago. The cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000 — an all-time high. The board said about 56 percent of bachelor's degree recipients at public schools graduated with debt averaging about $22,000. From private nonprofit universities, 65 percent graduated with debt averaging about $28,000. Experts say those average amounts usually are still manageable, at least for those who finish a degree. But they are concerned about the rate of increase, the growing numbers with substantially more debt and the increase in those apparently in over their heads repaying them. The Education Department said in September that the national student loan default rate for the 2009 budget year had risen to 8.8 percent.

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