This piece was originally published at CNBC.com
One key cause for the increase in student debt is that more Americans are going to college than ever before – and they need to.
Most college graduates have one major thing in common: student debt. Today, 70 percent of college students graduate with a significant amount of loans.
Over 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. That means that roughly one in four American adults are paying off student loans.
When they graduate, the average student loan borrower has $37,172 in student loans, a $20,000 increase from 13 years ago. With that money, borrowers could put a down payment on a home, purchase a new car or bootstrap their own business.
As the size of student debt owed has increased, so have monthly payments. The Federal Reserve estimated that the average monthly student loan payment increased from $227 in 2005 to $393 in 2016….