[Excerpt] This staff report focuses on the challenges of paying for college in America today. The report briefly outlines the problem before turning to potential solutions. We focus only “briefly” on the challenges facing families because this problem is well understood: the growth of college tuition is far outpacing that of family income. Some of this difference can be made up through borrowing for college, which is an important and nearly universally pursued option that we discuss in detail below. But parents ought to be able to put their children through college without assuming crushing debt burdens or placing those burdens on their children. It is also the case that in recent years, various problems have surfaced in the student loan market; we have attempted to address these problems in the Obama administration’s budget, which is currently under debate in the United States Congress.
This report focuses mostly on solutions, exploring policy steps that have already been taken and new steps that should be considered in order to make college more affordable to all families who aspire to provide a college education for their children.