Total student loan debt has crossed the $1 trillion mark, and according to the Institute for College Access and Success, as reported by Forbes, the average borrower will graduate $26,000 in the red.
And guess who is on the hook for that enormous debt if students default? U. S. taxpayers are, that's who, since the loans are backed by the government through banks and the Education Department.
According to Forbes, student loan debt is about 6 percent of the national debt of $16.7 trillion, so not only is the soaring student debt crippling students, it is adding to the woes caused by the rising national debt including slowing economic growth and increasing interest rates.
But while the $1 trillion-plus student debt continues to climb, an analysis released over the weekend by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that the number of chief executives at state colleges and universities earning at least $1 million more than doubled last year and a second study reported that colleges with the millionaire presidents are the same ones where students are more indebted and where adjuncts are more heavily relied upon.
That second study, by the Institute for Policy Studies, found that student debt is rising faster at the state universities with the highest paid presidents than at state universities as a whole. In addition, the study reported that spending on administrators outpaced scholarship spending by more than 2 to 1.
Consider this: President Obama, the leader of the free world, earns a salary of $400,000 a year plus a $50,000 expense account and a $100,000 travel account. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York is paid $179,000 a year while the state's top earner in 2012 was Antonio Alfonso, according to the New York Daily News, which reported that Alfonso, a SUNY Downstate Medical Center professor and Department of Surgery chairman, pulled in $1.06 million.
There's plenty of big money for university executives right here in Western New York as the Buffalo News reported on Sunday that UB President Satish K. Tripathi was the highest paid president in the state university system in 2012 – 2013 with a total package of $681,139.
Tripathi, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education analysis, was number 29 on the national list of highest paid public university executives, and right behind him at UB was Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of medicine who earned $674,690 in total compensation. And there are plenty more big earners in the UB fold.
The biggest payday among the university elite belonged to former Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee who had a base salary of $851,303 before resigning last summer to become President of West Virginia University.
The median income for chief executives at public colleges, according to the study, was $404,496, up 5 percent from the 2011 – 2012. Not bad work, if you can get it, and while the chief executives are earning more, students at the schools with the millionaire executives are getting less in the way of scholarship help and incurring even more debt to go with their diplomas.
The university executives are getting richer every year and the taxpayers and the students are buried in debt. It's not pretty picture and it is getting worse every year.
Anyone helping to pay college tuition for their children knows that the costs keep going up and the burden gets heavier each year. Parents and children are carrying the weight and the chief executives and administrators are making more and more every year. Maybe it is time for the public to pressure state lawmakers to rein in the runaway salaries at these public universities before the executives literally break the bank and head off into the sunset with their haul and students and parents head off into bankruptcy.