For students forced to take out loans to cover the cost of college, good news is rare. Not only has the cost of college skyrocketed in the last decade, so has the total amount of student debt. In the past decade alone student loan debt among students has quadrupled.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition at a four-year private college ten years ago was $26,260. Over the last decade that number has rapidly grown, approaching somewhere near $35,000 today.
And as any student at Boston College or a similarly priced university can tell you, that number doesn’t even come close to the cost of attending college. $35,000 includes public universities, which while increasing in final price on their own are still lower than private universities like Boston College.
For some students and recent graduates feeling the pressure of loans, however, there is finally some good news. Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt initiative announced that since the new year it has abolished $3.8 million in private student loan debt. By buying the debts for pennies on the dollar and refusing to collect the money owed, Strike Debt has done just that, making the nearly $4 million disappear. Even better, the group spent roughly $100,000 to purchase the collective $3.8 million.
The initiative began paying off the loans for community college students that attended Everest College. Everest is managed by Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest for-profit education companies in the United States and Canada. Corinthian Colleges was recently investigated and sued for predatory lending practices, prompting Strike Debt to take on the task of paying off some of Everest’s students’ loans.
While this is excellent news for the students at schools like Everest College, it isn’t necessarily helpful to students at schools like BC, since groups like Strike Debt cannot relieve government loans and the circumstances differ greatly.
Despite the efforts of some members of Congress like Senator Elizabeth Warren, students should not count on help from the federal government direction any time soon. However, in June President Obama did expand the Pay As You Earn program, which will cap monthly student loan payments at 10% of whatever a student’s income is at that time. This program is scheduled to go into effect in 2015, meaning it will help current college students struggling to figure out how they will pay for their education just in time for graduation.