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Grading Colleges on Access to the American Dream

Huffington Post

Right now, eager 18-year-olds from across the country are tweeting with bravado photos of their newly postered dorm rooms and scanning with private fear their freshmen class schedules. They're embarking on a journey to capture their piece of the American Dream.

They'll get a little help from economical e-textbooks and new-fangled apps that manipulate molecular models. But such technology is no match for the forces aligned against today's young people -- those in college as well as working class teens who dream of a degree but never enroll because they can't conceive of paying the breathtaking -- and for them, heartbreaking -- costs. [...]

The amount they borrow hurts both them and the economy. The average borrower graduates $26,600 in debt.

The public policy organization Demos, which works for equal opportunity in the American economy and equal say in its democracy, studied the effect of student debt. It found college loans are a life-long drag, causing a wealth loss of four times the original debt amount.

Most student debt is to the federal government, which is now owed $1 trillion. Demos calculates that to be a $4 trillion lifetime wealth loss for those students. That's significant both to them and to the economy. They won't be able to buy as many new cars or refrigerators or infant strollers. So no matter how hard they worked to graduate college and labor on the job, their American Dream is permanently encumbered. In addition, their non-spending impairs the economy. And that diminishes everyone's American Dream.

Read the full report:At What Cost? How Student Debt Reduces Lifetime Wealth