U.S. student debt tops $1.4 trillion

WASHINGTON, D.C.–American University students and Northwest District of Columbia residents said Wednesday that student loan debt which is above $1.4 trillion in the United States today is a serious issue facing those seeking higher education in America.

Nelson Jacobson discusses his experience with student loans. By Vicky Tan

“Interest rates are rising and I’m scared that I’ll still be paying of loans when I’m 35,” said Leila Ackerman, 18, who will start at American University this Fall.

Ackerman worries about expenses beyond just tuition and housing. She said the hidden costs are also going to add up. Not only is tuition becoming more and more expensive, but new students must be able to afford food, textbooks and other necessities to living away from home.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, I can’t even imagine what having loans breathing down your back would feel like,” said Janice Barlow, 20, an American University student. “You really can’t do anything. Every thing you do, anywhere you go, you have to be thinking about money.”

According to the Student Loan Debt Report, national student loan debt collectively currently totals $1.41 trillion.

According to the report, around 70 percent of college students in the United States now owe some soft of debt for education. However, even with almost a whole generation drowning in student loan debt, there is no guarantee of employment after they graduate.

There was a general consensus among both residents and students that government is not doing enough to help financially struggling students. With interest rates slowly rising, the nation has not made education as high a priority as others, they said.

“Government should try to make education more affordable, everyone should have the opportunity to go to get a better education if they want to. Money should not be a limiting factor,” Ackerman said.