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A Debt-Free College Education | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

A Debt-Free College Education


Activist dressed as the “Master of Degree,” holds a ball and chain representing his college loan debt.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Last Wednesday—almost a month after Congress failed to prevent student loan rates from doubling—Democrats and Republicans reached a compromise that will keep rates low, at least temporarily, for most graduates.

From a body with a record of procrastinating on student debt worse than students procrastinate on term papers, this was welcome news. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Indeed, the price of higher education—and how that price is paid—is still a huge problem in this country. Federal and student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion. Today, the average graduate leaves school with nearly $30,000 in debt.

And those are just the students who actually graduate. For millions of students, America’s university system is not a pathway to success but a debt trap. As of 2011, nearly half the students enrolled in four-year programs—and more than 70 percent of students in two-year programs—failed to earn their degrees within that time, with many dropping out because of the cost. They leave school far worse than they arrived: saddled with debt, but with no degree to help them land a job and pay off the debt.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Take Action: Tell Your Representatives to Follow Oregon’s Lead to End Student Debt

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