Princeton Review Survey Finds Worries Over Student Loan Debt On the Rise

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Many U.S. high school seniors are more worried about the amount of debt they’ll incur earning a college degree than they are about getting into their school of choice, according to a new survey from the Princeton Review.

“Thirty-eight percent of students surveyed listed ‘level of debt incurred to pay for the degree’ as their primary concern,” the Erie Times-News notes.

“That edged out the top answer of the previous three years, which was getting into their preferred school but not being able to afford it or get enough financial aid,” the report adds. “This year, 33 percent listed that as their biggest worry.”

The survey signals a shift in the way Americans think about higher education, taking on student debt, and budgeting for the ever-increasing cost of college.

And some experts say the system has reached a breaking point.

Kathy Kristof, former president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., on Friday called it the “conning of America’s children.”

The average college senior in 2012 graduated with an average of nearly $27,000 in student loan debt, according to CNN Money.

“Two-thirds of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation, and the average borrower owed $26,600,” the report adds. “That’s up 5% from 2010 and is the highest level of debt in the seven years the report has been published.”

Additionally, outstanding student loan debt stands at about $956 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit.

“Student debt increased by 4.6 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter — when annualized, that’s almost a 20 percent rate of increase,” CBS MoneyWatch notes.

Relating a message from a former student weighed down with loan debt, Stephen Burd, senior policy analyst New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program, said: “I will never own a home because of this crippling debt.”

Is higher education even worth it? That seems to be the question on the minds of many Americans.

“Junior college isn’t such a bad option…The debt is much easier to manage,” Kristof suggested.

She added that in her community, Mormon teenagers go off on two-year mission trips before pursing their college degrees. When they return, she added, they are more mature and ready to tackle major financial obligations.

“The number of kids who take five or six years to get through college is phenomenal and I think that has to do with being mature enough to go to college,” she said. “Don’t be pushing your kid to go into something you know as a parent that they’re not ready to go into.”

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