College should be about unlocking opportunities and creating a brighter future, not saddling students with burdensome amounts of debt. Hardworking students know that the best way to get a good job and support a family is to get a college degree. But, more and more, skyrocketing college costs force students to take on crippling debt in order to get the education they need.
Right now, our nation's collective student loan debt stands at more than $1 trillion. In fact, Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards. Since the early 1980s, tuition and fees have increased by 538 percent — that's almost twice as fast as health care costs. Fewer and fewer people have the ability to go through college without going into debt. Two-thirds of students who graduate with a bachelor's degree take out loans in order to pay for their education. People graduating from college with more than $40,000 in student loan debt has tripled over the last decade.
Despite the cost, having a college degree is critically important for ensuring a brighter future. Not having at least a bachelor's degree costs the average American with only a high school diploma about $1 million in lost earnings over the course of their lifetime.
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