Total student loan debt - the only form of loan debt that has increased since the recession - reached nearly $1 trillion last year, according to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The Condition of Education 2013 also shows that the employment rate is higher (87%) for 20-24 year olds with at least a bachelor's degree compared with the rate (48%) of those who did not finish high school.
"Today's economy puts young graduates in a difficult position," said NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley. "A college diploma no longer guarantees a direct pathway to the middle class, making it harder to justify the expense of a degree. Yet, when we look at the low employment rates for those who have only completed high school or less, we see how hard it is to get a good job without some type of higher education."
Along with the financing of postsecondary education and the employment rates of young adults, The Condition of Education also reviews academic "redshirting" of kindergarteners, the act of purposefully delaying a child's entrance into kindergarten, and rural education in the U.S.
• HIGHER EDUCATION LEVELS ATTRIBUTED TO HIGHER RATES OF EMPLOYMENT: In 2012, some 69% of young adults (ages 20-24) who were not in school were working. However, less than half of young adults who had not completed high school - and were not in school - were employed, compared to those who had completed high school (64%), and those who had finished college (87%).
• FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INCREASED FINANCIAL AID: The federal government has increased financial aid to students over the last ten years, reaching $146 billion in 2011. Grant aid, mostly in the form of Pell grants, increased nearly four-fold between 2000 and 2011 and the total amount of student loans disbursed increased by 150%, reaching $109 billion in 2011. The growing demand for student loans, in combination with a change in policy, has resulted in over $500 billion of student loans owned by the federal government. Student loans are the largest form of consumer debt outside of mortgages. However, 11% of student loans were at least 90 days past due in the third quarter of 2012.
• ABOUT 6% OF KINDERGARTENERS HAVE DELAYED-ENTRY STATUS: In fall 2010, about 6% of all kindergartners were redshirted. Higher percentages of students whose parents had a bachelor's degree or higher (8%) were redshirted than students whose parents had only completed high school (4%). The percentages of redshirted kindergartners were higher for students living in households that were at 200% or more of the federal poverty threshold (7%) than for students living below the poverty threshold (4%).
• MORE THAN HALF OF ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS LOCATED IN RURAL AREAS: In the 2010-11 school year, 24% of all public school students (12 million) attended rural schools. Fifty-seven percent of public school districts (8,000 districts) were rural. Rural schools serve more white students (71%) than the average public school (52%).
The Condition of Education also provides an annual portrait of education in the U.S. There are 42 indicators in this year's report covering all aspects of education, including early childhood through postsecondary education, student achievement and outcomes and school environments and resources.
The National Center for Education Statistics is the statistical center of the Institute of Education Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education.