College Grads Stuck Between High Costs And Falling Wages

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.

Related Posts:

Obama Administration Eases Load For Student Borrowers

Who Are The 99%? Students Share Opposing Views

Overworked, Debt-Laden Gen X Opting For No Kids

Photo credit: ashleigh290's Flickr stream.


Sue T.
Susan T6 years ago

@ Elizabeth K
No I did not go to college. I could not afford it. From the tone of your comment back on Oct 28th I have some hurt feelings.

ALL of you people seem to forget there were no jobs in the early 90's either!!

I lived with room mates struggled had tough times (still having them) and I really take offense to your comment to me.

I went to a Vo Tech school earned my degree, paid for it myself and even tho my life is not what I thought it would be I am not whining and bitching about it. and wanting the government to take other peoples money to help me.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


Britin J.
Past Member 6 years ago

Theo said: The fact is our society benefits more from a more educated citizenry. Putting unnecessary barriers to education benefits no one.

I agree that our society benefits from an educated populace, however I disagree with barriers benefiting no one.
What about all those folks that think the only education a person needs is how to lace a shoe up properly in the factory? What about all those that feel a women's place is in the home and they have no business being outside of it? Especially in an independent manner? What about all those folks that have millions of dollars and don't want the "help" daring to be educated enough to rise up against them? The list could go on but I believe you understand my point, being an educated person yourself :)

Theo C.
Theo C6 years ago

Supporting education builds our society. Some say helping yourself is an aspect of character. I say so is assisting your community. One is not in contradiction of the other. Getting an education IS work. Learning IS work. Making education available simply allows people to do the necessary work without destroying their future with a lifetime of debt. The fact is our society benefits more from a more educated citizenry. Putting unnecessary barriers to education benefits no one.

Kaitlin Carney
Kaitlin Carney6 years ago

Higher education should be free. I worked three part time jobs on top of full time college classes last year. This year I've lightened my load by working two part time jobs on top of school. It just isn't enough though. I'll only be 22 when I graduate with $10,000 in debt, and I haven't had a month's unemployment since I was 16. Just starting out in life and already burdened with more debt than I can imagine paying back. Am I living the American dream yet?

J C Bro
J C Brou6 years ago

Thanks for this.

Christine Stewart

For the people who say students with loans should have personal responsibility- guess what?- tuition goes up whenever and however much the schools want, with little advanced notice and no connection to inflation etc. In contrast, if you got an adjustable rate loan on your mortgage, your interest rate would rise, but at a previously agreed upon amount. Some schools raise tuition by 30 %, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR- you are in school for the year already- what are you supposed to do- drop out and ruin your chances of graduating in a decent length of time? Then the university pays their president an additional $50,000 just because all the other schools pay their prez more, and they don't want to hurt his feelings....

Emily Smith
Emily Smith6 years ago

Working two jobs, I still can't do any more than break even each month - and I start paying back student loans in two weeks. After going through all the "right" hoops, I find that I can't even qualify for an "income sensitive" payment plan, because, thanks to my two jobs, I make too much. I don't qualify for any medical or food assistance, either. I collapsed at work a week and a half ago, and I still haven't been able to afford a doctor. I don't even have an appointment because my hours conflict with the hours the clinic is open. I was literally turned away from the emergency room because I have no insurance, and with student loan payments due soon, I don't see how I'll even be able to afford the clinic...

scarlett g.
.6 years ago

WHAT HAS NOT INCREASED IN COST??? Learning other ways to deal with what is/has been happening with our society will help more to build character....stop depending on others to BAIL
you just ain,t gonna happen......let,s try some personal RESPONSIBILITY.....we all had parents, and hopefully being responsible was something they taught you!!

Juliet D.
judith sanders6 years ago

Lots of people are going to have to take things into their own hands. There are government publications online about how to set up a cooperative- doesn't have to be an agricultural cooperative, any business could use this model.