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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

$1.78 trillion in college debt: Can US derail the debt train?

Student loan debt now totals $1.78 trillion, reports Motley Fool. That number has doubled in the last 10 years. The average debtor owes $37,338 and is supposed to pay $337 a month. Fifteen percent are behind on their payments.

President Biden's proposed $400 billion in student loan forgiveness is a boondoggle, writes Emma Camp in Reason. It will help debtors in the short run, but won't address the root causes of ever-increasing debt.

Senate Republicans have a plan to "direct students toward high-quality programs and limit access to schools that provide a poor return on students' investment," she writes. It includes bills that consolidate repayment plans and cut access to programs whose participants end up with low earnings. The final bill would eliminate Graduate PLUS Loans, uncapped loans "connected to a rapid increase in graduate school tuition." Knowing grad students can borrow an unlimited amount, universities jack up prices.

House Republicans also want to reform student loans, Camp writes. They propose"targeted" debt relief to those who have "consistently made payments but have seen their debt increase anyway" and reforms of income-driven repayment plans.

"Colleges and universities using the availability of federal loans to increase their tuitions have left too many students drowning in debt without a path for success," said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R–La.) in a statement. This plan "puts downward pressure on tuition and empowers students to make the educational decisions that put them on track to academically and financially succeed."

Young people are more aware of the risks of borrowing for a low-value college degree -- or a "college experience" that doesn't lead to a degree. But most of the big debtors borrowed for a graduate or professional degree. Capping or eliminating those Graduate PLUS loans would save a lot of people from digging themselves into a hole they'll never escape.

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