VIDEO: An Eye-Opening (AKA Terrifying) Look Into Student Debt

Student loans. We're not sure who fears them more, the student or the parent. 

In 2017, more students are burdened by debt than ever.

  • Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt
    • That $1.4 T is spread out among about 44 million borrowers
  • That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt
  • The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt
    • That number is up six percent from 2015
Source: Student Loan Hero

The numbers alone are astonishing enough. Even more so, the average student loan payment is somewhere between $203-$350 (dependent on the student's age). But, to add salt to the wound so to speak, I recently came across a Buzzfeed article in which students were sat down, then basically pelted with ping pong balls. 

No, this wasn't a party game or cruel joke (cruel is definitely valid, though). Buzzfeed put the students in a type of submergence tank, then proceeded to dump ping pong balls representing the cost of college on top of them. 

One ping pong ball = $7. 


Buzzfeed then broke down how they came up with the 'cost of college:'

  • Tuition and fees for one semester
    • Average for a public school: $4,825
    • Average for a private school $16,740
  • Tuition and fees for four years
    • Average for a public school: $38,600
    • Average for a private school $133,920
  • Room and board
    • Average for a public school: $41,760
    • Average for a private school $47,560
  • Books and supplies
    • Average: $5,056
  • Personal expenses (laundry, travel, clothing, food, etc)
    • Average: $11,980
  • Interest
    • Average: 9.5%


  • Average for a public school: $98,632
  • Average for a private school $197,280

The demonstration was actually quite eye opening ... and a little claustrophobic. Buzzfeed argues that the more students are educated on loan, debt and loan forgiveness/payment plans ahead of time, the better they can understand and manage debt. 

"I didn't think about interest," one of the students realized. "That is something that I'm going to start thinking about."

More interesting, Florida was listed by Forbes as one of the "Low Debt States," with an average debt per student at $23,379. 

Still, those numbers are uncomfortable. 

Luckily, the more we think ahead, as parents and as students (if you're the younging), the more can be prepared and prevented. 

Brian Mudd

Brian Mudd

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