The Joplin Globe <-- Source
The late American middle class struggled for decades to keep pace with an American dream slipping from its grasp. Oh, they tried a number of strategies: Their wives went to work, both men and women took on additional jobs and worked longer hours, and, most damaging to them and the country, they jumped headfirst into easy debt that might as well have been quicksand.
Credit card debt. Housing debt. School loan debt.
Using the latter, middle-class Americans found themselves tens of thousands and sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole at a time when that college degree got them jobs with stagnating wages and eroding benefits.
According to a new report released earlier this week, school loan debt may become America’s next great financial crisis. At best, the level of debt students and parents take on is handicapping the ability of both groups to get ahead in life; at worst, it’s driving them into bankruptcy.
Eighty percent of bankruptcy attorneys who were surveyed recently say they’ve seen a jump in the number of clients at risk because of student-loan debt. That’s according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
Average student-loan debt for 2010 college graduates topped $25,000 — a record.
That’s no surprise given that getting a degree from even a state-subsidized school such as the University of Missouri can top $100,000. The tired notion that people can work their way through college with one or even two minimum-wage jobs is laughable in the face of college degrees that cost six figures.
William Brewer Jr., president of the Project on Student Debt in Oakland, Calif., issued the following warning: “Take it from those of us on the front line of economic distress in America, this could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy.”
Tick. Tick. Tick.