Graduate student debt on the rise

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In contrast to previous years, today's graduate students are leaving their programs with more debt than ever before according to a report published Tuesday by the New America Foundation.

The study found that of the $1 trillion federal student debt, 40 percent of their loan disbursements go towards helping fund expensive graduate degrees.

The Director of the Federal Education Budget at New America, Jason Delisle, says findings come from survey data collected by the U.S. Department of Education in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

“I see many stories where it’s about college affordability but they’re actually talking about grad school and I’m not so sure that we want to be so unspecific as to lump grad school into college,” said Delisle.

He shared that in many cases they’re individuals who leave their undergraduate studies with manageable to no debt loads but may be heavily in debt due to a master’s degree.

“These numbers are not necessarily cause for concern from the students point-of-view if their payments are guaranteed to remain a small share of their income and they can have whatever remains forgiven but again the public policy issue is, is that where we want to be spending resources on from the federal government for giving large amounts of debt to people in graduate school when we have people from lower income families who can’t afford to attend an undergraduate education,” said Delisle.

According to Delisle, he hopes the findings help illustrate how costly graduate rather than affordable undergraduate degrees are largely responsible for America's student debt.

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