The Class of 2014 will graduate from high school on the heels of welcome news that fewer of their peers are dropping out of school. Recently released data from the U.S. Department of Education show America hit its highest-ever high school graduation rate when the Class of 2012 topped 80 percent. Even more impressively, Iowa ranked highest in the nation with an 88 percent success rate at keeping kids in school through graduation.
This is good news. It shows a commitment by parents and educators to give the next generation a strong start to become productive contributors of society. America’s posterity will be shaped by the choices Millennials make to embrace and protect the blessings of economic freedom and individual liberty as they come of age in the 21st century.
Friends and family look forward to celebrating this milestone with the Class of 2014 in communities across Iowa. Parents have plenty to celebrate. Since 1960, the USDA has compiled data on what it costs to raise a child in the United States. Child-rearing costs have seen an average annual increase of 4.4 percent. The USDA’s most recent report projects parents would spend $241,080 to raise a child born in 2012 from birth to age 17.
If only sticker shock stopped on graduation day. Some students may already have a taste of debt with monthly car payments. Others may have hefty tuition bills on their horizon. A growing share of college-bound students takes out financial aid and graduates with an average $27,000 debt. Today the nation’s student loan portfolio is a whopping $1 trillion and many predict a likelihood of significant default, putting taxpayers on the hook yet again.
This spring I introduced bipartisan legislation to help families comparison shop for colleges. The bill would update and standardize requirements for colleges to make available a net price calculator, an online tool to make it easier for students to better estimate and compare what they would pay at schools they are interested in attending.