A higher education is the single most important investment students can make in their own
futures. At the same time, it has never been more expensive. President Obama made historic investments in college affordability, increasing the maximum Pell Grant award for working and middle class families by more than $900, creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and enacting effective student loan reforms eliminating bank subsidies and making college more affordable.
Skyrocketing tuition and fees, increasing student debt, and a weak economy have ledmany to wonder whether the benets of going to college are worth the costs. Morestudents than ever are taking on student loans—a troubling trend that suggests thatcollege is becoming less accessible to many students, even as our economy requires greaternumbers of highly educated workers. In this report, we review the status of undergraduatestudent debt in California and consider it in light of the economic benets of attaining a col-lege degree.
Since 2008, Sallie Mae has sponsored annually the national survey How America Pays for College with the goal of gathering and sharing new information about American families’ decisions on how to invest in higher education. How America Pays for College depicts the average amountsand percent of total costs paid from each funding sourcethat a “typical” family pays for college. The “typical” familyis a composite representation produced mathematicallyfrom the results of the survey questions about how and howmuch respondents paid for college spread across all families.