Video: Student Debt Weighs More On College Dropouts

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Most politicians talk about student loans as if they are a burden for borrowers, but some experts say they should instead be seen as investments.

Earlier this month, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley announced a plan to allow all students at public universities to graduate debt free, a personal hope for the former Maryland governor who has borrowed $339,200 to put two of his four children through college.

“All of the research is very clear: College pays off,” said Mamie Voight, director of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “A manageable amount of debt is worth it.”

But for students who do not earn degrees, student loan debt can be crippling.

“The truth is that student debt is not necessarily a bad thing,” she said. “Where we have problems is when students end up with too much debt, or don’t get the degree.”

Students who borrowed money for school but did not finish are four times as likely to default on those loans because they face higher unemployment rates and lower average salaries.

 This story is courtesy the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Reach reporter Jaelynn Grisso at or (202) 408-1493.