This student-debt crisis is escalating quickly

Throughout his perpetual campaigning, President Obama has made a big point about being the champion of students and young people in helping to make college more accessible and affordable and helping out with student debt — and yet, miraculously, here we are with student-loan debt and college tuition prices both quickly ballooning, and no end in sight. Could it be that perhaps the government trying to do more to “help” prospective-and-past students is actually what’s dramatically worsening the student-debt problem? From the WSJ:

Nearly all student loans—93% of them last year—are made directly by the government, which asks little or nothing about borrowers’ ability to repay, or about what sort of education they intend to pursue. …

Student lending grew rapidly in the 2000s, as did other consumer borrowing. The bulk of the loans were made by private lenders and guaranteed by the federal government. In 2010, in a money-saving effort pushed by Mr. Obama, Congress cut out the private middlemen and had the federal government start making loans directly.

Since the end of 2007, just before the financial crisis hit, total student debt has grown by more than 56%, adjusted for inflation, the new Fed data show. During that time, overall household debt—including mortgages, student loans, auto loans and credit cards—fell by 18%, to $11.31 trillion as of Sept. 30.

Is this ringing any bells for anyone else? Housing market; government taking over for the private sector; easy access to credit; bubbles going “pop!”? Jim Pethokoukis wondered yesterday if student-loan debt isn’t destined to fall victim to our burgeoning bailout culture (because we’ve got plenty of money to burn and everything), and has more of the startling numbers:

Image Credit: Citigroup

Banks already got their bailout, so is it time for loan-laden college grads to get theirs? Consider the following:

1. Student debt has climbed by 74% since the start of the Great Recession, according to a new report from Citigroup, and now approaches $1 trillion.

2. As of the third quarter of this year, roughly 11% of student loans were seriously delinquent, surpassing credit cards for the first time.

3. Default rates are also rising with 9.1% of student borrowers defaulting within their first two years of repayment.

4. Higher default rates mean lower credit scores for Generation Y than other age groups, hurting its ability to buy a first new car or starter home. Rutgers University find that 28% of recent graduates say they have moved back in with their parents to save money, and 40% have delayed a major purchase such as a house or car due to their educational debt.

Government largesse making it insanely easy for anyone and everyone to obtain big loans, without even having to carefully plan their future options and obligations, is only helping to inflate tuition prices and is saddling young people with monstrous amounts of debt — the ramifications of which nobody made them seriously consider when they decided to take it on. What’s more, young people are graduating into the slim employment pickings of the Obama economy, making it even more difficult for them to pay off their investment in the long run. This is not going to get any prettier while big-government policies continue to reign, as American Majority Action‘s Ron Meyer explained further on the Kudlow Report last night: