College debt daze
It’s tough to make the math work on a social worker’s starting salary and $80,000 in student loans. But that’s what 23-year-old Jillian Potter, a recent graduate of Anderson University in Indiana, is now up against. Hers is one of the millions of stories that now add up to almost $1 trillion in student debt being carried by Americans, a weighty burden that was the focus of a 4,600-word front-page story in yesterday’s New York Times.
The debt crunch began to grow starting in the 1980s, when college costs began growing at a rate faster than family incomes. The world of college debt is now nearly a universal phenomenon of those seeking higher education: The Times story says 94 percent of all students earning a bachelor’s degree today have borrowed to help finance their education, more than double the 45 percent who did so in 1993. For those with debt in 2011, the average amount owed was $23,300, and 10 percent owed more than $54,000.
The student debt crunch was explored in this story earlier this year in CommonWealth, which reported that Massachusetts college grads in the class of 2010 carried the 14th highest student debt load in the country ($25,541), while New Hampshire students had the dubious distinction of ranking first ($31,048). The Times story describes a double-whammy that is hitting public higher education students: rising college costs at a time when state support for higher ed has been declining. From 2001 to 2011, state and local support for public higher education per student has declined 24 percent nationally, a period during which tuition and fees at public colleges and universities shot up 72 percent.
The rising cost of college — and the increasing debt burden of US college students and graduates — was documented in a 2010 MassINC research report, Planning for College: A Consumer Approach to the Higher Education Marketplace. The report called for far greater transparency in the college financing process — and for more attention to the quality measures that would help students and families make more informed choices in selecting a college.
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The License Commission in Lowell is poised to roll back last call in bars from 2 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., the Lowell Sun reports.
The city of Weston, Florida, contracts out most of its services and has only nine city employees, Governing reports.
Most cities ended up with big surpluses in their snow and ice budgets this year, but not Lynn, which exceeded its budget by $138,165, the Item reports.
Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos heads into his annual performance review with a whole pile of baggage hanging overhead.
The National Review shows the salaries of some union bosses put them in the 1 percent and says it’s hypocritical for the labor officials to attack Republicans for championing the types of incomes they themselves earn.
Keller@Large brings in his body language consultant for the latest attempts at divining whether President Obama, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and Elizabeth Warren are comfortable in their own skins.
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GateHouse newspapers take a look at where the money is coming from and who’s raking it in in the state’s congressional races.
Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins highlights Mitt Romney’s difficulties escaping from the hole he dug for himself in Michigan.
Springfield lost more than a third of its manufacturing jobs in the past decade, according to a recent Brookings Institution report.
On Point’s, Tom Ashbrook hosts a discussion about income inequality with Edward Conrad, a former Bain Capital executive, and Timothy Noah, author of The Great Divergence.
The American Spectator says if Hollywood boycotts filming in North Carolina because of the voters’ ban on gay marriage last week, it would save taxpayers there millions in tax credits and suggests the boycott should extend to all states that have banned gay marriage and save taxpayers $1.5 billion.
Herman Cain talks up the gold standard and trades in vampire metaphors. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed column.
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Some doctors say Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new program to crack down on prescription drug abuse is going to create more red tape for physicians and patients who already follow the rules.
Former Gov. Michael Dukakis urges Beacon Hill to do for health insurance what Bill Weld did for workers compensation: tightly regulate rates.
Easton officials are meeting some resistance in trying to extend the town’s ban on smoking in public places to other outdoor areas such as ballfields and wooded hiking trails.
NASA physicist and climatologist James Hansen says heat waves were caused by human-induced climate change, Time reports.
The Heritage Foundation reports that the US Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to extend permits that allow the killing of bald eagles to accommodate wind energy projects.
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MEDIAThe author of the new Ben Bradlee book defends himself against the critics, particularly his former boss, Bob Woodward, The Daily Beast reports.