Big Debt, Little Study: What Taxpayers Should Know about College Students’ Time Use

College students understandably bemoan the costs of higher education. During the 2015–2016 school year, annual costs at four-year public universities reached $19,548 for in-state students and $34,031 for out-of-state students. Annual costs at private institutions reached $43,921. Federal student aid has likely exacerbated the college cost problem, providing short-term relief to students in the form of loans and grants, while enabling universities to increase tuition across the board.

There is an additional consequence to taxpayer-subsidized federal student loans. The average full-time college student spends only 2.76 hours per day on all education-related activities. This helps explain why most full-time students today do not graduate in four years and rack up increasingly high loan debt during their extended enrollment. Taxpayers, who are increasingly on the hook for borrower defaults and loan forgiveness programs, deserve to know what their tax dollars subsidize.

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