Study: 40% of $1 Trillion Student Loan Debt Belongs to Grad Students

Study: 40% of $1 Trillion Student Loan Debt Belongs to Grad Students

A new study by the left-leaning think tank the New American Foundation finds that 40% of the over $1 trillion in U.S. student loan debt belongs to graduate students.

“Most of these degrees are not intuitively worth it,” Jason Delisle, the author of the study told Buzzfeed. “Is a Master of Arts degree really worth $20,000 more than it was in 2004?”

Delisle added, “The Obama administration says they’re addressing the problem, but it’s also one they’ve helped cause…They’re saying ‘we have a huge debt problem,’ but at the same time, they’re saying to grad students, ‘Borrow as much as you want.'” 

A few highlights from the study on the skyrocketing rates of graduate student loan debt include: 

  • The combined undergraduate and graduate debt for law students (LL.B. or J.D.) is now a staggering $140,616–a figure that jumped $51,983 from 2004 to 2012 
  • The combined undergraduate and graduate debt for a Master of Arts graduate is $58,539–an increase of $20,574 from 2004 to 2012 
  • Medical and Health Science graduates have seen their combined undergraduate and graduate debt rise $38,569 over the period studied, resulting in $161,772 of debt for the typical graduate who borrows

Progressives have used the student debt issue to argue for so-called “debt forgiveness” policies that dump debt on taxpayers. Conservatives, however, point out that skyrocketing higher education costs are largely the work of administrators and a liberal professoriate who demand light teaching loads, inflated salaries, tenure, and excessive spending on luxury buildings and amenities.

Last year, a poll by global management firm Accenture found that 41% of U.S. workers who graduated from college in the last two years are underemployed and working in positions that did not even require a college diploma.


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