To understand what’s happening with student loans you need to keep two things in mind at once: There is a problem, yes, but there is also a lot of hysteria. And increasingly lost in the hysteria are the students we should worry about most – those making poor choices based on bad information or attending for-profit colleges that are ripping them off. But the focus on overall debt is obscuring much of what’s really happening – median debt for students who borrow is less than $13K, for instance. That’s what I look at in this week’s TIME column.
Student debt is completely out of control, right? The more than $1 trillion in outstanding college loans is front-page news and is pretty much the only educational issue the presidential candidates are talking about. Yes, ballooning student debt is causing real hardship for some Americans. But as with many educational flare-ups, the public debate is giving us more noise than signal. So before you decide to skip college based on the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind.