by Art Woolf
1. Three families live in a town. One family earns $0 and the other two earn $28,000. What does the average family earn?
2. Three students from the same town graduate from college. One graduates with no debt and the other two graduate with $28,000 in debt. What is the average student debt?
If you think the answers to those two questions are the same, you are mistaken, at least according to the Project on Student Debt, whose numbers are usually taken out of context. Rep. Peter Welch is trying to stop the coming increase in subsidized Stafford loan higher education interest rates. According to an article in the Freeps,
According to the Project on Student Debt, the average debt of a student graduating from an institution in Vermont is $28,391, sixth highest in the country. Two-thirds of the students in Vermont graduate with debt.
Which means the average is not $28,391. It's (2/3)*$28,391 + (1/3)*$0 = $18,927; still high, but not nearly as high as $28,391.
No one would ignore people earning no income when talking about average household income, so why do they ignore the one-third of students who graduate with no debt when they talk about student debt?