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State Politics

PolitiFact Check: Has Nationwide Student Loan Debt Surpassed Credit Card Debt?

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California Senator Kamala Harris recently claimed that student loan debt has spiked one hundred seventy percent in America since 2006. And she said it’s surpassed the nation’s credit card debt.  Capital Public Radio’s PolitiFact reporter Chris Nichols fact-checked Harris’ statement.

The Democratic presidential candidate has called out the growing student debt crisis on the campaign trail.

01Harris: “Student loan debt is one of the biggest challenges facing our country and our students. I have met so many students who have talked with me about the burden that they carry that is not only financial but emotional.” (:13)

Harris made her claim about the rapid growth of student debt in a recent news release and on Twitter. She said the amount owed now totals more that one and a half trillion dollars and surpasses credit card debt.

National financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz says Harris is right on just about all her facts.

01Mark: “I’d say that her statement is mostly correct. The one slight error: She actually underestimates the growth of student loan debt outstanding.” (:10)

Kantrowitz says college debt has grown even faster -- at more than two hundred percent since 2006.

The reason for the fast pace? Kantrowitz says it’s because state and federal grants have slowed as tuition has gone up.

02Mark: “Their support of post-secondary education has not been keeping pace with the increases in college costs.” (:10)

College enrollment has grown 11 percent during the period. But that’s  nowhere near as fast as the nation’s student loan debt.

In the end, we rated Harris’ overall statement Mostly True.

In Sacramento, I’m Chris Nichols

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