Student loans are troublesome for a variety of reasons. The thing about student loans that worries everyone, even here at the College Guide, is the difficulty students will have paying them back later on. But for at least a decade, one could count on the loans being relatively easy to obtain. Anyone could get a student loan. But it’s harder now. According to an article in the Washington Post:

The upheaval in financial markets did not just eliminate generous lending for home buyers; it also ended an era of easy credit for students and their families facing the soaring cost of a college degree.

Lenders have raised rates and tightened standards, dramatically limiting the availability of home-equity loans and private student loans. College savings accounts, known as 529 plans, had acute losses in the downturn. And a new law, set to take effect Feb. 22, will bar students younger than 21 from getting credit cards on their own.

But despite the fact that loans for colleges are now harder to obtain, college cost keeps rising. Many worry that ultimately this will put college out of reach for many otherwise entirely prepared people.

Parents often used to pay for their children’s higher education by borrowing against the value of their houses. This isn’t generally an option anymore. Apparently home-equity lines of credit have fallen 25 percent in two years.

According to the article, the cost of tuition and room and board has grown by 121 percent since 1980. Median household income increased 18 percent during the same period. Much of the difference between these two percentages was met by student loans.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer