I’m reading through Consumer Report‘s “College Financing Survey” this morning. There’s good data in this report that I plan to use in articles in the fall. As I’m plugging the numbers into my notes, I thought I would put some of their findings on this blog. See what y’all think.
They surveyed 1,550 people, aged 21-40, with college debt. Looks like pretty sound methodology.
Level of debt. Respondents reported an overall student loan debt median of $20,851 and the median cost for one year of college of $14,359. Given the cost of college, that 20 grand is pretty modest. Yesterday, I was checking out the costs for the University of Vermont. Out-of-state tuition/room and board for one year at this public costs is $55,000. I imagine that it would be quite easy to get into six figure debt.
Even though 20K seems like a reasonable amount of debt, it still has a huge impact on students. Half of the students who graduated said that they had trouble making a payment at least once. Three quarters of students who never graduated said that they had a problem making a payment. 44 percent of all respondents said that this debt meant that they had to cut back on day to day expenses.
It impacts on their dating lives. 44 percent said that they would want to know how much debt a person had before entering into a serious relationship.
Their most stunning finding is that 45 percent of respondants said that college was not worth the cost. That bitter college attendees didn’t have more debt than satisfied college attendees. The bitter-types had lower salaries than the college enthusiasts. Most of the bitter ones had attended two year collges. Still, a third of college bitter types were at public, 4-year schools and private, 4-year schools. I would like to know the majors of the bitter-types.
Respondents said that they recieved very little information about college finances from their high schools or colleges.
Debt levels were higher at four-year public colleges ($28,750) than at four-year private colleges ($26,000). (That might be because private colleges offer more merit scholarships or because the parents had saved more for those students.)
But the colleges that the respondants attended don’t seem to match up with the colleges that my kid has on his short list. The report says that the median price tage on the total costs of an out-of-state public college is about $16K – not the $55K that we’re seeing. I wonder if all the debt and stress is higher at the more selective colleges.