Weighing in at more than $1 trillion, student loan debt is now larger than total credit card debt. Morning Edition recently asked young adults about their biggest concerns, and more than two-thirds of respondents mentioned college debt. Many say they have put off marriage or buying a home because of the financial burden they took on as students.
For Tom Jenkins, a senior at the University of Washington and a veteran of the Air Force, the partial government shutdown has caused double stress: He has been furloughed from his part-time job as a reservist, and he may not receive veteran’s benefits.
Many low-income students rely on need-based scholarships and grants to pay for college. But in recent years, universities across the country — and often states themselves — are turning away from need-based financial aid. Increasingly, they’re awarding student aid based on merit. Nationally, 29 percent of all student aid is now merit based. That number has nearly tripled over the past 20 years.
Catherine Rampell is an economics reporter for The New York Times. She talked with David Hyde about what's behind the trend.