Student debt has been a $1 trillion problem for at least six years.
Six years ago, on April 25, 2012, activists took to the streets to mark the country’s outstanding student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. And in the years since, many of the trends that pushed student debt levels to climb have persisted, and in some cases, they’ve gotten worse.
Focusing on the $1 trillion mark is somewhat “arbitrary,” given that it doesn’t change the debt burdens individuals are managing every day, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. (Outstanding student debt reached $1 trillion during the second quarter of 2012, according to the Federal Reserve, which includes April.)
Still, Huelsman said these kinds of “big round numbers” can help galvanize people around the issue. “Rising student debt has really happened over a 20-year period,” he said.