Every college semester, I filled out my financial aid application, hoping I would receive more grants than loans. Either way, my fate was sealed: I was a college student in the United States, so debt was inevitable.
The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Education are for 2012–13, my second year in college. That year, tuition, room, and board for undergraduates averaged $15,022 a year at public institutions, $39,173 at private nonprofit institutions, and $23,158 at private for-profit institutions. Most students spend at least four years in college. No aspiring college graduate I know has $60,000 lying around for four years of public college—let alone almost three times that for a private one. This has led to one of the United States’ most crippling debts: $1.3 trillion worth of it.