In 2004, the average student debt was $18,550 — roughly 56% less than it is for the class of 2019. TICAS says inflation was 36% over the same period of time.
Average debt has increased even faster in some states. For example, TICAS found that debt among graduates in New Jersey has grown 107% since 2004, rising from $16,223 to $33,566.
The pandemic will likely accelerate this growth.
“Students who are still in college or considering college now have frequently seen their family’s ability to pay for school change dramatically because of the economic crisis,” Cochrane says.
She says it’s unclear what policymakers will do to support these students.
Managing federal student debt
Relief is available to most federal loan borrowers, as their payments are suspended interest-free through Dec. 31.
But once payments restart, if you owed the average debt of $28,950, your monthly bills would be roughly $300, assuming an interest rate of 4.5% and a 10-year repayment term.