Student loan debt rises as loan forgiveness remains uncertain

In addition to highlighting the crushing burden of student debt, the pandemic has also brought to light the exorbitant cost of a college education.

Average tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year rose 1.6%, to $10,740, for in-state students at public four-year colleges, according to the College Board, which tracks college pricing and student aid trends. The data also showed tuition and fees at private four-year institutions rose 2.1% to $38,070.

Many students have to borrow to cover the cost, which has already propelled collective student loan debt in the United States past $1.7 trillion.

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This year’s new freshman class will be even more reliant on loans to earn a degree from a public college or university, new data shows.

Typically, 7 in 10 seniors graduate in the red, owing nearly $30,000 per borrower, according to data from the Institute for College Access & Success.

Meanwhile, a 2022 high school graduate could take out up to $39,500 in student loans, on average, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This represents an increase of $38,147 for 2021 high school graduates.

The share of parents taking out federal Parent PLUS loans to help cover the costs of their children’s college education has also increased significantly, NerdWallet found.

The report takes into account that it now takes five years, on average, to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, as more and more undergraduates take time off.

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