Where is the Student Loan Tipping Point?

At what point does school become unaffordable for college graduates? I would argue that we've already hit that point for some students who amass 6-figure debt. It's not unrealistic for a graduate of a private college to get near $100,000 in student loans for a 4-year undergraduate degree. Even with an annual salary of $60,000, it's probably in the student's best interest to pursue student loan forgiveness and never pay that loan back, especially if they are working at a non-profit organization. The government has actually done a decent job in the last few decades, by building in student loan forgiveness "safeguards," and income-driven repayment plans, so students are absolutely buried by their student loans. Even if the average cost of attending college is $1,000,000, for a student would never have to pay back more than 10% of their discretionary income for 20 years (plus the tax burden, but we'll see what happens with that when an entire generation is hit with $100,000+ in taxes due).  The big question is, where is the tipping point for the government?

The government can't loan out $1,000,000 and only get paid back $300,000 on a large scale. At some point, the system will need to be fixed. Or at least changed, even if it's just broken differently. I don't know if that will be mass student loan forgiveness, as some have been calling for, but that could be one option, especially as millennials and Gen Zer's start voting en mass, with many having massive student loan debts. Maybe one solution would be for the government to only loan out the average projected salary after graduation for each program. In this example, let's say the average annual salary for a nurse is $70,000. So the most that the government would loan for a nursing degree is $70,000 total. Ensuring that they will likely get something close to that total amount after a 10 year repayment, even if students are on income-driven repayment.

This could help keep the cost of school lower, and also drive more students to affordable options like community college, and living at home during school. It would also however, greatly impact the students from middle-income families, because they don't qualify for as much in federal grants as students from low-income families, and they also don't come from families who make enough money to easily save for a college education.

I'm not a macro-economist, and I don't know what the exact number is when college will become unaffordable for the government, but I do know that we're fast approaching that number. I can guarantee the system will change dramatically by the time our children will be attending college. What it will actually look like is anyone's guess.