Borrowing for a Future: American Student Debt

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Student loan debt is increasingly the front-and-center concern in the lives of young Americans. As college graduates are looking to take the next step in beginning their career, many are saddled with large amounts of debt. Although there are plans to help new graduates pay student loans, many have grown wary of borrowing money for a college.          

It may seem to be a difficult, and possibly foolhardy, decision to use student loans to fund an education, but there’s mounting evidence that in the long run, it pays off. Some individuals may find the amount of debt they need to take on daunting, but it can possibly lead to high paying, and enjoyable career options. The Alliance for Education (2011) finds that, on average, high school graduates nationwide earned on average $27,380 in 2009 while graduates of four-year college degree programs earned an average $46,930 that year.

Related How to Pay Back Student Loans

While the amount of money earned can go up depending on the level of education someone has, unemployment rates can decrease steadily as well. The BLS (2012) reports that nationwide high school graduates have an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent which falls to 6.2 percent among those who earn an associate degree. These unemployment numbers generally only get smaller with progressively more advanced degrees.

Read more in the visual below to learn about average student loan debt and how earning a college degree may still be well worth the time and money.


“Education Pays,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2013,

“The High Cost of High School Dropouts,” Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011,

For a complete list of sources, please view the Infographic.

Borrowing for a Future: American Student Debt
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