The high cost of college is the elephant in the room for my main character. Her resolution comes after a lot of heartache, but it's a fairy tale compared to what real-life students and graduates go through. Here's the latest about how much student debt is going up.
Not surprisingly, they note here that students in the Northeast were among those with the greatest debt- but so were students in the Midwest. Students in the West and South have the lowest.
The implied advice hasn't changed: go to a less expensive state school. However, those aren't the bargains they used to be as higher education has been cut almost across the board in all states.
The article notes that private student loans account for a fifth of student debt. Consider my heart chilled.
There are things that can be done to prevent high debt: attend a state school, do some of your work at a less expensive community college, work over the summer (if you can find a job while unemployment is high). But frankly, all of them seem like bandaids when state support is being reduced.
The best answer I've heard so far: invest in higher education institutions to lower the cost of attending college in the first place.