By Senator Marco Rubio
May 14, 2013
In today's competitive, knowledge-based global economy, a college education is one of the most important investments an American student can make to succeed.
It can also be one of the most expensive. The importance of accessing and completing a higher education and its implications on both social and economic upward mobility are understood. But the cost of a post-secondary degree is steadily increasing, leaving many students who want to access a higher education to rely on loans and grants for assistance.
Now is the time to equip 21st-century students with the tools to make the best investment in their future, especially when the rate of unemployment is nearly 8 percent and underemployment is nearly 14 percent. Gone are the days when a college degree guarantees a steady and well-paying career in return, which means students and their families deserve to understand the costs they are undertaking to obtain a higher education, and exactly what return on investment they can expect.
Factors such as the likelihood of graduating, how long it will take to complete their degrees or credentials, the odds of defaulting on loans, and average post-graduation earnings are important metrics and may have a drastic impact on which program and college to attend.
Now more than ever, these factors are important when considering a significant investment like college. Yet most of these important data are not easily accessible, and some are not even provided at all. Without this critical information, more and more students are finding themselves making decisions that could leave them saddled with more loan debt and harder choices before they have an opportunity to succeed.
According to the College Board, two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2011 had student loan debt, with an average of $26,600 per borrowing student, and Americans owe more than $1 trillion combined.
With today's ultracompetitive job market for recent graduates, prospective college students shouldn't have to blindly dive into a pool of debt in order to complete their higher education and pursue a career path. Certain programs or institutions may be a better match for one person than they are for another, depending on a variety of factors, and individuals should not have a difficult time accessing information when comparing institutions to make such an important decision impacting their future.
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