Power Breakfast: College debt rising, sales tax vote, bank failures, Gwinnett land deal, oil prices

Many students are graduating from college with a pile of debt that will take decades to repay, AJC staffer Katie Leslie reports.

In fact, student debt is one of the few categories of borrowing that is still on the rise, Leslie writes.

The amount borrowed per full-time student grew by 5 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, from 2000 to 2010, according to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.

This graduation season, the average student will leave school with $20,000 or more in loans, according to various expert estimates, Leslie reports.

Amazingly, as many as one-third of bachelor’s degree recipients can expect to still be paying back their student loans when their own children head off to college, said Mark Kantrowitz, the founder of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com.

Students’ debt loads would be less problematic if they could be confident of finding work in their field of study, but since the Great Recession, many have struggled to do so, Leslie reports.

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8 comments Add your comment

Buzz G

May 23rd, 2011
7:08 am

People are just waking up to the fact that for many the college degree is not worth what it was supposed to. Our high schools continue to promote the myth of financial success via college education. Drove past Gwinnett South High yesterday. The marquee says “College, Not if but where.” There is an entire industry, much of it funded by the taxpayer, promoting the education myth. The results of studies you see showing how much more the average college graduates earn are skewed by several high earning fields like medical and computer. Additionally, many of these studies are commissioned and funded by the education industry and the results are not to be trusted. Get yourself a degree in Women’s Studies from a prestigious New England University on borrowed money and you are guaranteeing yourself a life of poverty.

Many of the college loans are guaranteed by the Federal Government and we, the taxpayers, are ultimately on the hook for them. Taxpayers are looking down the barrel of the gun that will be shooting the next government bailout bullet. The sooner this myth gets exposed, the better.


May 23rd, 2011
7:46 am


It is true that college grads are struggling right now. It is also true that mounting debt is a problem. And, not everyone is cut out for college. However, I think you are going over the edge a bit, when you suggest that the whole thing is a scam. Are you suggesting that there is no benefit to going to college? Will we as a society be better off if we stop sending our kids to college? Will our economy be more competitive if we stop sending kids to college? If college is such a bad deal, maybe we don’t need high school either. Let’s go back to 1900 when only about 2% went to college, and the vast majority did not finish high school. That will make things better.

Sam I Am

May 23rd, 2011
8:07 am

The third world countries that have millions of our jobs don’t need college grads, it’s about the paycheck not the paper.

real john

May 23rd, 2011
8:14 am

I truly feel sorry for many kids entering college right now. I’m all for higher education, but the costs are out of control. I graduated from a good state school a fews years ago when it was still a reasonable amount.

Some of these schools are just taking money from kids. Where does all of the money go?? My guess is a large portion or these tenured professors who teach two classes a week (with teaching assistants grading all of their papers) and make a pretty nice salary.

Congress will have stupid hearings with Mark McGuire and Andy Pettite, yet do nothing to protect these kids from having huge promises thrown at them. Salaries are just not going up fast enough to keep up with college costs. Unless you are going to college to be a doctor, accountant, engineer, most of the degrees now are not worth it.

Art Thomas

May 23rd, 2011
8:25 am

Not only are our young eduated generation now floudering in heavy debt but 35% of the class of 2009 are underemployed 50% of 2010 and about 75% of 2011 are not employed. A recent article indicated 85% of new college grads will return home to live and the AJC today mentions in another article how many parents are helping costs of their children. I am thankful my youngest is gainfully employed and he graduated from a major southern college in late 2010.

I am also concerned about the paper mill of on- line degrees that are now being pushed. So many of these so called 4 year degrees school are now advertising painting a picture of euphoria for future graduates who can earn their degree in pajamas. I EARNED MY DEGREES IN THE 70 AND 80′S ATTENDING CLASSES BUDGETING AND DOING GROUP WORK . Now I am aware of associates earning paper mill degrees saying worked so hard for 1 month or even worse laughing saying how “bought the test to pass the final etc. The cheapening of the collegiate degree is being amplified by the internet.

Many of the students being wooed to think about college should not as their performance in the classroom indicates better a life of semi skilled at best!! Looking back at the wreck of our economy the draining of skilled jobs from our country (Thank you Dell Itel HP , IBM GE and a host of other forturne 500,s guilty as charged) Until our myopic government and the elites realize we are a guns and butter economy (you cant have it both ways) and we are now supporting the world at paper generated funding destabilizing our own economy we are doomed to spiral downward. Debt has undermined most of Europe ( witness stock markets tumbling today.) The USA under present trends will financially collapse making 2008 Fall stock market and panic look like a feather in the wind!!

Friendly Bob Adams

May 23rd, 2011
9:56 am

Henry the student debt situation is not as onerous as you and many other journalists make it out to be.

The reason is that there isn’t a strong expectation that the loans will ever be repaid. As of 2010 the student loan repayment rate for for-profit colleges was 36 percent, 54 percent for public universities and 56 percent at private nonprofits. The taxpayers pick up the tab for the defaulters. When you dole out money with the expectation of recovering only about 50%, that begs the question is it a loan or a gift.

Destin Dawg

May 23rd, 2011
2:26 pm

kids need to WORK their way through school… like we did back in the day… live at home… go at least 2 years to Jr./Community college. .. internship… if no scholarship.. then join the military… or Tech/Trade school… we need nurses.. hands on mechanical… skills .. We need WORKERS … thinkers not so much !!!!


May 23rd, 2011
2:48 pm

Education is very important, but even the best doctor in the world will
go hungry when he has no patients to treat. We have highly educated
college graduates, but the jobs have gone overseas. A vast percentage
of the blue collar jobs have gone overseas during the last three decades, and a whole lot of white collar jobs too have gone overseas.
Who can bring the jobs back? America on the other hand became a nation
of consuming excessively foreign made goods using our credit cards.
Now, we are in a deep and narrow pit with problems.