America's staggering student debt numbers
July 14th, 2014
04:01 PM ET

America's staggering student debt numbers

Watch"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

When it comes to student debt in the United States, the numbers are truly staggering – in 2012, 71 percent of new bachelor’s degree graduates had debt, averaging over $29,000. Over the last ten years, student debt has quadrupled – topping $1 trillion.

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Topics: Education • GPS Show

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Allan Kinsman©

    If the United States is good at anything it is debt. We can think long term about anything except how to create debt, create government bigger and poorly manage our military resources. I would say we are expert in these aspects of civilization. We don't even have a branch of government managing the dollar. Kennedy signed an order prior to his trip to dallas to reestablish the government control over the dollar and he never came back. So, I guess everyone from that point thought it a bad idea. Now the Federal reserve manages the dollar and why wouldn't a conglomerant of private banks do it better.

    July 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Ryan Hashem,M.D.

    Hello Mr. Zakaria,

    I am a 4th year psychiatry resident who will be leaving residency 300,000 dollars in debt. I luckily had my father pay for my undergraduate studies as well. So all this debt is due to medical school loans alone. This is not abnormal at all. Psychiatry has the highest shortage of any medical field in the United states and the shortage is growing, not narrowing. If there is such a massive shortage in this field, then you would expect loan forgiveness for everyone in this field until the shortage is met. However, more and more doctors are going into subspecialties that are not of the primary nature such as opthalmology because the payday is greater. However, this leaves the US public with longer wait times and over worked doctors. Give loan forgivness and primary care physicians can live on $120,000 salary(average pay for pediatricians). However, high loans would incur and average of 3-4 thousand dollars of monthly repayments and after taxes that leaves doctors with very little to live on.

    Happy doctors will equal happy and healthy Americans.


    A resident Physician on the verge of student debt repayment.

    July 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
    • 007pandas/ Nomadic Adventure

      Congratulation on your upcoming graduation into the medical field. But lets not forget that most of the people you will be seeing will also have debt of some type. Living in America, debt for home, car, vacations are a part of life so take your time and payoff your debt.

      Stop complaining when your salary is similar to your patients.

      There is no debt forgiveness for homes, cars and credit cards only paying off your debt.

      July 14, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
    • Susan Barre

      Forgive ALL STUDENT DEBT – that will put the country back on track because they will be free of the government on their backs and spend money – and make the wheels of progress turn around again. FREE ALL FROM STUDENT DEBT.

      July 15, 2014 at 2:39 am |
    • Timmy Suckle "The Medical Cartel Puppet"

      I kissed my way up to CEO at a health insurance company. Now I take over $1,000,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other CEOs, VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
      But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
      Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $117,000 level. Now I only pay 1.17% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

      July 15, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Jason Doshi

      Hi Dr. Hashem, I completely understand your situation which is why I co-founded Loanscribe. Loanscribe is an online platform where Doctors can consolidate their medical student loan debt. The average resident has multiple loans payable to different loan servicers. We aim to simplify the process and help our young doctors live a healthier financial life! Check out and feel free to email me with any questions:

      July 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
  3. Leftcoastrocky

    My guess is that a large percentage of the increase in tuition over the past 20 years is due to increase in medical costs of college employees and retirees.

    Time for single payer.

    July 14, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  4. chri§§y

    But according to Cheney health and healthcare should NOT be a priority in this country! ONLY military spending should be a priority!

    July 14, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
  5. 007pandas/ Nomadic Adventure

    Debt owed debt should be payed.

    I really shocked with this issue of debt. If you sign up for debt with the promise of paying it back, and not recognizing that you may have several years to repay, that would be a slight consideration when signing the paper work?

    Are their programs that allow for the student to pay off the debt to serve as a physician in low income and communities without physicians in order to pay off the debt owed.

    The jobs for which the debt is owed are in a field that pay extremely well, I think people are complaining about paying a debt much like people have for years.

    July 14, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
  6. 007pandas/ Nomadic Adventure

    Could the increase in the number of people in this field of study be in reference to those knowing they will make their monies in a society that is aging?

    July 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    I think the part of this that troubles everyone is the cost not the fact that they have to repay the loans! It has risen 4 times faster than inflation. A good read on this is

    July 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    One of my closest friends is a psychiatrist. He earns about $450,000.00 a year in an office with one secretary and does not teach. He could repay a $300,000.00 debt relatively quickly.
    Physicians should cry about student loans only when drug reps are taking them to dinner at destination restaurants.

    July 15, 2014 at 4:12 am |
  9. CT

    Free education to degree/ graduate level should be a basic human rights for a developed country. This is the same for free national health care.

    How can a country with so many rich men like America cannot provide free education and free national health care? It is beyond comprehension.

    UK provides free national health care services. 20 years ago their university tuition fees was free too. Germany still provides free national health care services and free university tuition fees. What's wrong with U.S.?

    July 15, 2014 at 8:46 am |
    • Gary Montgomery

      I support single payer health care and national secular education paid for by higher progressive taxes. It's a matter of national economic defense.

      July 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
  10. chri§§y

    Because @ CT we have people like the one before you who places no value on children!!! Much like Midas! He only values money!

    July 15, 2014 at 8:56 am |
  11. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    July 15, 2014 at 9:58 am |
    • DRJJJ

      And from the far left in power: In Gov we trust, we've done so well, the debt we leave will lead to h*ll, we have no morals, or ethics too, so vote us in and we'll do you too! Is Robinhood in the Whitehouse?? Why have the 1% flourished, the debt doubled, gas prices doubled which hurt our poor the worse and the country is more divided than ever? I know it ain't your fault. See data-you're not the enlightened party! We're after best practices! Ex: Texas has created 1/3 of all the new jobs in the USA for the last 5 years and Christians are topping the social ills charts or filling our prisons-liberals are!

      July 16, 2014 at 11:47 am |
      • So to clarify

        So to clarify. You agree with the GOP Mantra. Ok, got it.

        July 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
  12. harry

    I've personally seen way too many high school grads go on to college to obtain worthless degrees that don't end in a job. But it's more gratifying to tell your high school classmates that "you're going to college" rather than getting a job at burger-world which is where they too often end up after getting their worthless degrees and staggering college debt. Going to college is too often just something to do when you finish high school.

    July 16, 2014 at 10:16 am |
  13. chri§§y

    Lol @ so to clarify...was hard to figure out just what team the blogger before you was on by the time you got to the end of his/her post wasnt it?

    July 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  14. Eddie Fonseca

    We have all seen the hit 90's television show the Fresh Prince of Bel Air where James Avery played Judge Phil Banks, a University educated lawyer who attend some the best university to earn that degree. Now let's just think about how much money that would have costed to take that degree, which could be over 30,000 US dollars I mean who in the hell has the much money lying around. As an American who has attend a trades college I know how hard college and university students, have to work from delivering pizzas in that horrible Honda civic to working many night shifts on the weekends at the local grocery store to pay for that college degree it aint easy man we have all been there. What would make it easy on our poor suffering university and college students, is that we should have more scholarship programs and make a university education less expensive because we need quality educated young people to fill jobs when the older workers retire. As the older workforce in America retires and thinks about playing a few rounds of golf on the golf course's of Florida, while sipping a few cold ones and talking about the good old days with their golf buddies about their jobs they worked for over twenty years. Without making college and university education less expensive will our older workers have to work to their dying days at their jobs, and we will find our older worker slumped in his chair exhausted from putting over a fifty hour work week, because there was not young workers in America to fill his role for years to come.

    August 4, 2015 at 12:56 am |
  15. William Evey

    I would love to add that when you do not actually have an insurance policy or perhaps you do not remain in any group insurance, you might well make use of seeking the assistance of a health insurance broker. Self-employed or people who have medical conditions generally seek the help of one health insurance brokerage service. Thanks for your text.

    February 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm |

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