Student loan debt, an uphill battle

As students pursuing higher education, it is a commonality for many of us to have taken out some sort of student loan to “aid” us through our journey to obtaining an undergraduate degree from Monmouth College. The same can be said for other college students all over the United States.

LendEDU reached out to The Courier to share important statistics in their annual Average Student Loan Debt by School by State report. Yearly, LendEDU compiles extensive data from the annual Peterson financial aid survey to spread awareness about the growing issue of student loan debt. According to LendEDU, “Nationally, outstanding student loan debt sits at $1.52 trillion, making it the second largest form of consumer debt trailing only mortgages.”

With this number increasing by the year, it is safe to say that Monmouth College students are not the only ones taking out significant loans to cover the cost of higher education. To break down this staggering $1.52 trillion, the average borrower from the nation-wide class of 2018 received their diploma and left campus with $28,565 in student loan debt, up from $28,288 owed by the average 2017 borrower.

As a state, Illinois ranked 31st out all 50 states when calculating the student debt total. 65 percent of all Illinois college graduates hold an average of $29,692. This total is up by 4.46% from 2017.

When looking at student loan debt, it is important to recognize where our own school fits in. Nationally, Monmouth College sits around the middle of the pack ranking 462nd out of 845 higher education institutions all over the country.

Statewide, Monmouth ranks 19th out of 36 private and public institutions. Northeastern Illinois University sits at #1 while Judson University holds spot #36.

Eighty-two percent of Monmouth College graduates hold public student loan debt, meaning that this is an issue that affects the bulk of our campus community. With an average loan debt of $30,252 per borrower, Monmouth students are faced with the wide-spread hindrance of debt for years following graduation. For anyone planning to pursue a graduate degree, this debt will only continue to grow and for those planning to buy a new car, home, or start a family, it is often that these plans get delayed.

Monmouth College’s tuition for the 2019-20 school year is $38,990. Once housing, meal plan, and fees are added in, the total per-year sits around $48,320 and continues to grow every school year. Being a residential campus that requires a meal plan, there is little-to-no wiggle room to lower this high cost. While scholarships can help, they most often only provide a minimal cut to the steep cost. Higher education institutions nation-wide are sending their tuition price tags through the roof, prompting a growing number of students to take out student loans. Bottom line: Higher education is becoming more unaffordable for more and more undergraduate hopefuls.

“As Congress continues to discuss the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that could potentially hold certain schools more accountable for egregious student debt levels, [LendEDU’s] school-specific report could be extremely valuable for lawmakers and administrators alike.”

As just one of thousands of U.S. schools facing the repercussions of growing student loan debt, it is our responsibility to continue this critical conversation, utilize our education to solicit change, and make our voices heard. “It is our hope that by reading LendEDU’s fourth annual Student Loan Debt by School by State Report, you are inspired to have productive conversations about student loan debt and the cost of college in the U.S.”

Visit LendEDU.com to read the entire 2019 state-by-state report.

Emma Hildebrand – Editor in Chief

Griffin Morrill – News Editor

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