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"Why Student debt is ‘a crisis' for some borrowers" PBS NewsHour 10/21/2016


SUMMARY:  Student debt has been a prominent topic during this year's presidential campaign, with several candidates touting plans for tuition-free college.  Indeed, more than 40 million Americans carry debt from student loans, totaling around $1.3 trillion nationally.  While the median debt is about $27,000, people who owe less than $10,000 are the most likely to default.  Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Student debt has been a big talking point on the 2016 campaign trail.  Hillary Clinton proposes making tuition free for many students at public colleges.  Donald Trump would expand limits on how much borrowers have to pay back each month.

But what about those already holding debt?

We take a look as part of our series How the Deck Is Stacked, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in partnership with Frontline and Marketplace.

Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary has the first of two stories.

LIZZIE O'LEARY, Marketplace:  If everything had gone according to plan, Chris Savelle would be on Wall Street right now, not biking through downtown Detroit in a free weekly community ride.

Savelle, who is 31, graduated into the teeth of the recession.  He's got $100,000 in student loan debt on his mind.

What does $100,000 feel like?

CHRIS SAVELLE, Student Borrower:  It sucks.

LIZZIE O'LEARY:  Jessica Love Jordan is in a similar situation.  She started college late and is now working on finishing her master's in addiction counseling.  She juggles school, work and being a single parent.  Sometimes, the debt feels too much.

JESSICA LOVE JORDAN, Student Borrower:  Now and again, when I look at the statement, and see how much I actually have to pay back, it's almost suffocating.  I have those fleeing thoughts, you know what, let me just stop now, and go work, so I can be able to live later on in life.

LIZZIE O'LEARY:  When she graduates, she can expect to make about $33,000 annually as an addiction counselor.  Her debt will be about $90,000.

The median student debt is much lower than Savelle or Love Jordan's, about $27,000.  But their experiences are similar to those of many students who attended state universities at a time when their budgets were being cut, and as the great recession hit.  The money for school had to come from somewhere, in most cases, students.

Where did you think you would be in your life at 31?

CHRIS SAVELLE:  Go work for an investment firm or hedge fund, Chicago, New York, something like that.

LIZZIE O'LEARY:  But when Savelle graduated in 2008, the best job he could find was at a local Wal-Mart.  He's recovered somewhat now.  He works as a supply chain engineer, and supports his mother and sister.

Temple University Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has been researching the rising price of college for years.

LOAN SHARK SPEAK - Navient:  "We have been strong advocates for streamlining the enrollment process to make it easier for borrowers." aka 'we make it very easy to get into debt and hard to get out of debt.  We need our profits, after all.'

This post first appeared on Mage Soapbox, please read the originial post: here

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