It turns out the 99% is right: a college degree just isn’t the key to unlocking the American dream anymore. Two new reports show that college students and graduates are being hit by two parallel economic disasters: higher tuition costs and lower post-graduation wages. This means that students are going to have to take on significantly more debt to obtain their degrees, all the while knowing that they will have an even harder time paying it off.
The current inflation in college costs are astounding: public college costs are going up 8.3% annually, more than twice normal inflation. Private (non-profit) schools also saw a considerable jump, by more than 4%. This report therefore explains†recent research that has shown that the amount of student debt accrued by college students has been exploding: it’s because the cost of college is skyrocketing too.
The obscene costs of college might even be okay if it weren’t for the fact that the premium to getting a degree has also gone down in recent years. Michael Mandel points us to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which he analyzes to find that in the most recent quarter, “full-time workers with a bachelorís degree and no advanced degree earned 3.5% less, in real terms, than a year earlier.” This has hit men especially hard, with their wages falling 5.3%, as opposed to womens’ which have gone down 1.3%.
This news is catastrophic, but unfortunately not that surprising. The 99% movement has highlighted what has become a national tragedy — lack of opportunity and crushing debt keep hardworking Americans from living the American dream. Although President Obama recently unveiled new plans to stop student debt loads from exploding further, more dramatic action is needed both to rein in student debt and to provide well paying jobs to college graduates. Until politicians can do that, all we’re going to see is increasing income inequality — and increasing social instability.
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