In an era of dubious economic milestones, it was yet another lowlight. This spring, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans’ total student-loan debt ballooned to more than $900 billion — higher than their total credit-card debt. And no wonder the debt is piling up: Over the past two decades, the price of tuition has risen 20 times as fast as the average college grad’s wages.
Statistics like these help to flesh out a now-familiar message: The cost of college has escalated from unsettling to obscene. College administrators say that the soaring price tags reflect the rising costs of their own biggest expenses — faculty salaries and state-of-the-art dorms and facilities.