With average student debt this year climbing to an all-time high of $26,500, the issue took on new prominence when a study by the Pew Research Center found that—for the first time in history—nearly 20% of U.S. households have outstanding student loan debt. College debt, which had already outpaced credit card debt, topped $1 trillion this year—also a first. Many students and college administrators have started to question the bang that higher education delivers for all those bucks. In a poll sponsored by TIME and the Carnegie Corporation of New York this fall, 80% of U.S. adults surveyed said that at many colleges, the education students receive is not worth what they pay for it. And although President Obama started 2012 by issuing a plan to make college costs more transparent and lower the monthly repayments for some borrowers, the majority of debt holders will feel the pain for years, if not decades, to come.
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Top 10 Education Stories
- 10. Go, Fight, Win: Texas Cheerleaders and the B-I-B-L-E
- 9. The Rise of the Digital Textbook
- 8. Harvard’s Cheating Scandal
- 7. Shaming the For-Profit Colleges
- 6. Bypassing No Child Left Behind
- 5. The Ever-Worsening Student Loan Crisis
- 4. UVA President Ousted—Then Reinstated
- 3. Malala and the Fight for Girls’ Education Worldwide
- 2. Chicago Teachers Hit the Picket Lines
- 1. Planet of the MOOCs
Top 10 U.S. News Stories
- 10. The American Energy Boom
- 9. The Grim Toll of Military Suicides
- 8. Obama’s Gay Marriage Awakening
- 7. The Fall of Gen. David Petraeus
- 6. Amnesty for the Undocumented?
- 5. Mayhem at Aurora and Oak Creek
- 4. The Killing of Trayvon Martin
- 3. ‘Obamacare’ Upheld
- 2. Hurricane Sandy
- 1. President Obama Reelected to Fix a Struggling Economy