Here's a big reason why Americans have $1.16 trillion in student debt

A new report shows a majority of states have drastically cut spending on higher education since the recession. That report identifies the collateral damage of these cuts — students and families who must pay more tuition.

The report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan think tank, reveals that all but three states — Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming — are spending less per student on higher education during the 2014-15 school year than they did pre-recession. And 31 states have cut funding for higher education by more that 20%.

Those cuts have contributed to student loan debt reaching $US1.16 trillion as of the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the report. That means student loan debt far exceeds car loans and credit card debt which were $US955 billion and $US700 billion respectively.

Budgetary cuts to higher education happened en masse around the US following the recession in 2007 when state tax revenues fell drastically. But as the economy has clawed its way back to pre-recession numbers, college spending has stagnated or been cut. As a result, state colleges and universities have cut staff and eliminated programs. This puts the burden of rising tuition costs on students and families.

Indeed we are already starting to see cracks in the higher education foundation related to budgetary concerns. Louisiana State University announced in April that it was drafting a bankruptcy plan due to recently proposed budgetary cuts by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

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