The Rise of Debt-For-Diploma

The Rise of Debt-For-Diploma

Until about the mid-1990s, state universities and colleges were affordable for middle-income households. Lower-income students could pay the bill with grants and part-time jobs. Debt was the exception, not the rule.

This current debt-for-diploma system is the result of overlapping trends, including the steady decline in public investment in state colleges and universities, down 25 percent per full-time equivalent student since 2000. State policy decisions are largely responsible for this major cost shift onto students and families.

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