Student loan debt rises as loan forgiveness remains uncertain

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Beyond highlighting the overwhelming burden of student loan debt, the pandemic has also shed light on the sky-high cost of college.

Average tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year increased by 1.6%, to $10,740, for in-state students at four-year public colleges, according to the College Board, which tracks trends in college pricing and student aid. The data also showed tuition and fees at four-year private institutions rose by 2.1% to $38,070.

Many students must borrow to cover the cost, which has already propelled collective student loan debt in the U.S. past  $1.7 trillion.

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This year’s incoming freshman class will rely on loans even more in pursuit of a degree at a public college or university, new data shows.

Typically, 7 in 10 college 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 on as much as $39,500 in student loans, on average, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s up from $38,147 for 2021 high school grads. 

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

The report factors in that it now takes five years, on average, to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, given that more undergraduates are taking time off.

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