Students getting college degrees are borrowing more money to complete their educations than they have in the past. Student loans have topped $1 trillion. A study recently released by the New America Foundation shows that student loan debt is outpacing all other types of loans except for residential mortgages. Students seeking advanced degrees comprise only 17 percent of student loan borrowers, but they’re getting the lion’s share of the money.
The study revealed that grad students borrowed an average of $57,600 in 2012, as compared to just $40,209 in 2004. That’s an increase of 43 percent in just eight years. Students are hoping that advanced degrees will give them better employment opportunities in a struggling economy.
After completing an undergraduate program, many students are finding it difficult to land a job. The philosophy is that going back to school to get a higher degree will make them more competitive in the workforce. A bachelor’s degree is no longer enough for some careers. The New America Foundation research showed that some students with master’s degrees weren’t necessarily getting higher salaries, just hoping to get the edge over the competition. How much they borrowed was directly related to their field of interest.
For example, students borrowing money for Master of Arts degrees dropped $58,500 in 2012, for an average of $20,500 more per student. On the other hand, the average student financing a business administration master’s program in 2012 borrowed $42,000, only $600 more than their counterpart in 2004.
According to non-profit American Student Assistance, of the 20 million students attending college every year, about 12 million borrow money to help cover their expenses. The consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports that of the more than $1 trillion in student loans, $150 billion comes from private lenders, and the other $864 billion is connected to federal funding.