Student Loan Debt Reaches $1 Trillion

By KBJR News 1

October 13, 2012 Updated Oct 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM CDT

(SUPERIOR,WI)---Student loan debt has become an economic crisis across the nation.

Researchers with Institue for One Wisconsin and student leaders presented findings on the debt crisis and discussed key components for the health of Wisconsin's economy.

Some say our early twenties are the best years of our lives.

"I haven't gotten a paycheck from anywhere in a month and a half," Brad Schmitz, a UW Parkside student said.

"I am going to need to find a job, that's for sure," Samantha Rottscheit, a UW Lacross student, said.

For many young adults attending college, being able to juggle finances with homework, extra curricular activities, and excelling with academics can be near to impossible.

Taking out student loans have become a standard in making this all possible, right?

"People are having to take bigger and bigger obligations. You can't work during the summer and pay the exploding costs of tuition," Scot Ross, Executive Director with Institute for One Wisconsin, said.

Researchers say student loan debt in the nation has topped one trillion dollars.

Institute for One Wisconsin and student leaders are discussing ways to curb that debt.

Researchers say student loan debt reduces new car purchasing power by more than $200M annually.

"If you have a student loan debt, you are two–thirds more likely to be a renter as opposed to owning your own home," Ross said.

Ross says the length of student loan debt for people with a Bachelor's Degree is 19 years.

Meanwhile, it's expected to take people with graduate and professional degrees 22 years to pay their loans off.

"This is hurting our economy," Ross said.

Ross says federal laws have been changed to impair students such as the removal of some bankruptcy protections and refinancing rights.

The solution to the problem?

Ross says steps have been taken to help those with debt, such as the government taking charge of loan origination and capping loan payments at a fixed percentage.

"I hope that the market is good enough where I can get a job and own a home, and own a car as well as pay off my student loans," Brandon Methu, a UW Milwaukee student, said.

Since 1980, the average tuition at U.S. Universities has increased by 600 percent, according to the Institute for One Wisconsin.

Justin Reis, NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com