by Judah Bellin
September 04, 2014
The cost of American higher education is reaching dizzying heights. Average tuition for attending a private, nonprofit four-year college or university in 2013 was $40,917 per year, while a public four-year college cost $18,391 yearly—figures representing a five-year increase of 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively. To pay the fattening bill, students are taking on more loan debt than ever before. The average debt burden for students graduating from four-year programs in 2012 grew to $29,400, up more than 25 percent from just four years earlier. Total student debt outstanding in America now exceeds $1 trillion. Defaults are spiking. Blame bad public policy for much of this unaffordability. The federal student loan program, which disburses funds to students based on the price of attendance at their chosen college, provides no incentive for the schools to keep costs low.