The Student Loan Crisis: Why One Government-Backed Tuition Program May Not Be Enough

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Student loan debt: it’s the one part of college that can haunt you before you’ve even arrived on campus, and it remains your unwanted friend for long after you’ve graduated.

Although plenty of Americans will argue that the student loan debt crisis reached its boiling point at least a few years ago, the government is finally attempting to curb the problem.

As The Consumerist reports, the Obama Administration proposed back in January a piece of legislation that aims to make community college free for prospective students. The legislation, called America’s College Promise Act of 2015, would waive the tuition for two years of community college. Both those just graduating high school and those who have been removed from the academic system for a certain number of years would be eligible.

But now that Americans are starting to favor this legislation, it’s becoming clear that it may not solve the real problem at hand, because the proposed act fails to address the current student loan debt, which is quickly spiraling out of control.

The College Board reported last year that the average cost of a private college education for the 2014-2015 academic year would be just over $31,000, while the average public college would cost just over $9,000 in tuition and fees.

All in all, TIME magazine reports, these numbers contribute to the growing national student loan debt which, as of March 2015, officially hit $1.2 trillion.

The problem with student loan debt — and with Millennial debt in general — is the fact that no institution or government agency seems capable of mitigating past tuition bills, resulting in student loan payments that can easily last for a decade or longer.

Many financial advisers have even begun worrying about the investment and retirement trends of Millennials — or, more accurately, the lack thereof. As the Chicago Tribune reported recently, only 28% of Millennials (ages 18 to 33) believe that paying off debt is a priority and 27% believe that a 401(k) investment plan should be a “top goal.”

Perhaps this is due to the fact that many Millennials were drowning in debt after their first freshman year; paying off their debts is a mere fantasy.

And for those students who are both incapable of paying off past debts yet ineligible for a government-subsidized tuition waiver, the student loan crisis has really only begun.

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