Data Check: Student debt rises as government funding falls

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It is not hard to imagine what will happen to student debt as governments scale back their funding for postsecondary education, causing institutions to increase tuition to cover the shortfall. The latest report on student debt in the United States shows that the average inflation-adjusted debt for first time bachelor’s degree graduates rose from $14,700 in 1994 to $24,700 fifteen years later.
The amount of student debt incurred by those attending public four-year institutions was lower than private universities, but the relative increase was much the same – 68 per cent. There are other expenses of course, but the greater proportion of increasing indebtedness for public graduates is attributable to more rapidly rising tuition costs at public universities. Tuition increased by almost 80 per cent over the same period at these institutions, compared to a forty per cent increase at private schools.
While Ontario is still behind it’s American peers in terms of tuition fees, the slow decline of per-student funding in the province (now the lowest in Canada) will certainly lead to higher student debt down the line.  
National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in Debt for Bachelor’s Degree Recipients a Year After Graduation: 1994, 2001 and 2009; Digest of Education Statistics 2011: Table 349. Average undergraduate tuition and fees and room and board rates charged for full-time students in degree-granting institutions, by level and control of institution: 1964-65 through 2010-11

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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