If the method of paying for higher education remains the same, average student debt is likely to continue to rise, according to Mark Huelsman, an associate director at Demos, a left-leaning think tank, who studies student debt.
The slowed growth, he said, might be thanks to some families' ability to pay for college after rebuilding some of their wealth after the recession. Unemployment is low, which means people have jobs to help pay off their loans.
A few decades ago, it was unusual to graduate with a lot of debt. The growth in debt loads is especially troubling, Huelsman said, given how diverse college students are compared with the predominately white classes of the past.
“We have depressed ourselves into a mindset in which $30,000 in debt is acceptable for a degree,” Huelsman said.