The overall amount of money owed by Americans on their student loans has more than doubled over the past decade, from $772 billion to $1.6 trillion. While student loans have always existed, and many Americans have benefited from taking out loans to finance their studies, the extent of that borrowing has never been greater. More than half of all young Americans in college in 2018 were estimated to have taken on debt to do so.
Accurate figures for student loans aren’t available from before 2006, but total student loan amounts have more than tripled since then. And what are American students getting from borrowing all that money? Not much, really.
Millennials are now the most indebted generation in American history, but they’re also earning less than previous generations and facing more obstacles in getting promoted, thanks to older Americans remaining in the workforce longer. That’s a recipe for an entire generation of underpaid, overly indebted, and frustrated voters.
Many jobs today require a college degree for applicants just to get noticed, even though the skills required in those jobs could be fulfilled by anyone with half a brain and some decent motor skills. The number of truly skilled jobs that require someone with above average intelligence continues to decrease at the same time as colleges are churning out more and more graduates, resulting in a number of college grads filling positions that were once filled by high school graduates. There’s a reason that a bachelor’s degree is considered the modern-day equivalent of a high school diploma.
Many college grads realize that their time and money was wasted, and they’re turning their back on the white collar world and getting back into the trades and manual labor. In many industries they could make far more money working with their hands than they could in fields that would utilize their degrees.
The demand for history, English, and philosophy majors in the workplace is understandably limited, but those willing to work as plumbers, electrical linemen, or skilled craftsmen often find that they’re able to make far more money than they ever would have in a white collar profession. But unless more Americans realize that the college rat race benefits colleges and their bottom line more than American students and workers and their bottom lines, Americans will continue racking up student debt in record amounts.