CoPIRG Applauds Representative Diana DeGette’s Leadership on Affordable Higher Education

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Statement by CoPIRG Director Danny Katz at Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s Student Loan Debt Event at CU-Denver

“Student loan debt is headed in the wrong direction.

Twelve years ago only one-third of college graduates from four year public colleges needed to borrow money to attain a college degree and graduates who borrowed carried around $12,000 of debt on average. Today more than two-thirds of graduates have federal student loan debt and carry over $23,000 on average.

The percentage of students with $25,000 worth of private student loan debt has increased, from 5% in 1996 to 24% in 2008.

Taken together average student loan debt in Colorado is $24,500 and we have more student loan defaults than most states.

Student loan debt isn’t an 800 pound gorilla in Colorado. It’s an 800,000 pound gorilla with nearly 800,000 people in Colorado with student loan debt.

Student loan debt is large, it’s growing and we applaud Representative DeGette for being a champion of policies that will tackle this issue.

We need robust grant programs at the state and national level, a simpler system of student aid and stronger safeguards for student borrowers in repayment.

We look forward to helping the Congresswoman champion higher education affordability policies that can help keep a college degree within reach of all Colorado families and individuals.”