U.S. students increasingly are borrowing money for college, but fewer graduates are paying off the loans. According to a new report from the Department of Education, 64 percent of graduates from the class of 2008 borrowed for college, compared to 49 percent of the class of 1993.
The average amount borrowed also increased from $14,000 in 1993 to $24,700 in 2008. Sixty percent of 2008 graduates were repaying their loans a year after receiving their degree, compared to 65 percent of 2000 graduates and 66 percent of the earliest graduates in the study. Ninety percent of students attending for-profit schools took out a loan, compared to 62 percent who attended public universities and 70 percent who attended private, nonprofit schools.
Researchers noted that high student loan debt -- even among those still able to pay off their loans -- could restrict graduates' abilities to obtain a graduate degree, achieve financial independence, or start their own families. Overwhelmed borrowers may qualify for the federal Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan, which allows them to pay based on their earnings.