The results of a new state-by-state survey by the Institute for College Access and Success show Pennsylvania has the fourth highest percentage of college graduates with student loan debt and the third highest total student loan debt in the nation.
Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill said these latest statistics show the importance of adequately funding higher education and solving the student loan debt crisis.
"These are top ten lists Pennsylvania should not be on,” said Morrill. “The student loan debt crisis isn't just hurting borrowers and their families, it is a drag on our economy that will prevent Pennsylvanians from buying a home, starting a business or make investments in their future."
The study by the Institute found that 70 percent of students graduating in Pennsylvania in 2012 had student loan debt, the fourth highest percentage in the nation.
In addition, Pennsylvania ranked third in terms of average debt amount per student at $31,675.
Also of concern is the finding that the average student loan debt, already the second largest form consumer debt in the nation and estimated to exceed $1.2 trillion, increased 10% over the last year.
One attempt to solve this problem is the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2013 (HR 1330), introduced by Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37]. There are currently 51 co-sponsors, none from Pennsylvania.
Excessive student loan debt is impeding economic growth in the United States. Faced with excessive repayment burdens, many individuals are unable to start businesses, invest, or buy homes. Because of soaring tuition costs, students often have no choice but to amass significant debt to obtain an education that is widely considered a prerequisite for earning a living wage.
Another solution would be for Pennsylvania to enact legislation to help students and their families. In Wisconsin, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act was introduced that would:
• Create a state authority to help borrowers refinance their student loans, just like you can a home mortgage;
• Allow borrowers to deduct their student loan payments on their state income taxes;
• Require borrowers be given detailed information before entering into loan agreements, offer counseling to students and parents on the implications of student loans and require the state to collect and disseminate information about private lenders and maintain a ranking system; and
• Track information about student loan debt in the state to help policy makers better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis.
“Pennsylvania needs to deal with this problem now or find its economy will be harmed for generations,” added Morrill.