Tuition and other college costs have risen astronomically and grants and other forms of non-debt aid haven’t kept pace. It’s not uncommon for students across the country today to graduate with crushing balances owed to the federal government and to private lenders – the latter often at high interest rates.
Wisconsin hasn’t escaped the trend. According to Bruce Murphy, editor at Urban Milwaukee, the percentage of debt incurred by Wisconsin’s students rose sharply in the past decade – faster than all but 6 other states.
"We have to assume that the Great Recession had something to do with this," Murphy says. "People having less money and having to make things stretch, and maybe borrowing more money for student loans as a result."
Murphy also notes that state governments are spending less on college as a way to cut their budgets. "What's been happening is that, increasingly, the percentage of college costs paid by students and families keeps rising," he explains.