NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow explores the high cost of higher education and its toll on students in this report.
Sixty percent of students at four year colleges go to public institutions, but that doesn't necessarily mean affordable.
The high cost of both public and private college education has meant more and more students have to rely on student loans in order to put themselves through school. Many of those students remain under the weight of that debt for many years after graduating. The pressure of meeting loan payments has caused some to feel frustrated and trapped.
Middle class families are especially concerned about being stuck between the upper class that can afford college without help, and the lower class that gets more financial aid.
This report looks at the how the most heavily-indebted generation in America is dealing with these difficult financial decisions.
"Since the early '80s, tuition and fees have grown 375 percent, almost three times more than median family income." -John Merrow, NewsHour coorespondent
"I'm going to be living at home forever, because I can't afford to move out. I can't do some of the things that everybody else is doing, because I have to pay all these bills every single month." - Annabelle Rosario, former student
"I think that it becomes a sort of standard practice to just accept the fact that, if you want to get what you want out of life, you're going to have to be in debt." - Ian Witherby, student
"Without some education or training beyond high school, this economy is going to punish you. You can't even get in the queue for a job that will get you in the middle class." - Patrick Callan, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
1. What is an average annual cost of a public university and a private university?
2. How do you think most people pay for college?
1. Is a college education worth going into debt? Why or why not?
2. What are some of the ways the current economic crisis could affect families’ abilities to pay for college or get loans? Has the economic downturn affected your views on paying for college versus getting a job out of school?
3. Many states may have to cut funding to state schools, forcing them to increase tuition even more. What effect might that have on potential students?
Transcript of this report: