The most recent data suggests that US student loan debt is soaring at a dizzying pace. This past year, figures have shown that it now currently sits at around $1.4 trillion—yes, trillion. Shockingly, college tuition fees have increased almost 400 percent in the last 30 years while the average household income growth certainly has not, says news site theatlantic.com. Yet, while the nation places great importance on college education for a sustainable and thriving economic future, yearly university fees are still climbing, forcing people to take out giant student loans and some would-be students to forget about college altogether. According to The Washington Post, some four in 10 people who have attended college in their lives have taken out a loan to facilitate their studies. A report by the College Board released in 2016 found that the average debt attributed to those who took out a student loan to complete a bachelor’s degree was $28,400, but the reality is often much higher for many students. What is even more egregious about this situation, is that it is largely students from the least affluent backgrounds who take on the most student loan debt. Around a fifth of people who have student loan debt are also “falling back” on their payments, incurring penalties and sky-rocketing interest rates on top of an already huge sum.
Some think tanks are now arguing that the US government should eliminate student loan debt completely, saying that, in the long-term, these crippling bills will do nothing to bolster the country’s economy later down the line, and may actually damage it. But, unless this happens and college is still your goal, it is key to take into account all of the financial options available to you to help keep costs down as much as possible throughout your studies. Financial aid in the form of scholarships or non-repayable grants can slash student loan debts down by a considerable amount, and there are also many universities across the country who offer significant financial aid packages which cover up to 100 percent in tuition fees.
Five colleges with great financial aid packages
There is a wealth of colleges throughout the US—including major Ivy League universities—who offer financial aid to those who need it the most.
- Columbia University
One of the most expensive schools in the states, Columbia University’s tuition and fees reach $55,056 per year. Thankfully, the college offers a very attractive financial aid package, which comes to an average of $55,521.
- Harvard University
Harvard University is considered one of the most elite schools in the world, and the privilege of attending is reflective of its mammoth yearly fees which reach $47,074. But, like Columbia, it offers a great financial aid page of $51,308 to cover this—and then some. 100 percent of students who were eligible for this package’s needs were met.
- Yale University
Annual tuition and fees at this Ivy League school reach $49,480. Yale offers an average of $52,894 in their financial aid package, and 100 percent of students who utilized the financial aid package’s needs were met.
- Princeton University
With annual tuition and fees costing $45,320, Princeton University offers an attractive financial aid package which sits at an average of $49,502.
- University of Richmond
While annual tuition fees for the University of Richmond are around $50,910, the university offers a financial aid package is $45,784, making the remaining $5,000 or so a lot easier to cope with when it comes to paying fees.
It’s safe to say that student loan debt may be an inevitable part of studying, but there are options available to help alleviate financial pressures during your school years. Make sure to research the universities you might like to attend before applying. Some schools may offer substantial non-repayable grants to help cover the ever-increasing fees attached.