College tuition 'astronomically' increased since U.S. Supreme Court justices were students: report
New research from The Education Data Initiative shows the price of college tuition has increased by nearly $30,000 since four out of nine United States Supreme Court justices received their undergraduate degrees, Business Insider reports.
Recently, the majority conservative court questioned whether President Joe Biden has the power to authorize the cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loan debt for borrowers.
According to Forbes, more than 100 House GOP "members filed a brief with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to strike down Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan," referring to the proposed plan as "nothing more than a political maneuver."
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However, according to The Education Data Initiative (EDI), the cost of college has drastically changed over the last 50 years.
Four of the nine justices graduated throughout the 1970s, a time when the average student loan debt was around $1,000, according to data from the research group The Education Data Initiative. By 2021, the average student debt at graduation was around $31,000, the group reported, citing federal data.
The data shows between 1970 and 2021 the average student loan debt borrowers faced at graduation had risen 2,807 percent, according to Business Insider. After adding inflation into the equation, "debt was still a 317 percent increase."
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Insider reporter Sarah Al-Arshani offers a breakdown of the difference in the cost of college tuition today versus what it was for each of the high court justices, including Justice Clarence Thomas whose tuition came out to $14,550 in 1971. Today, his four-year degree from The College of the Holy Cross would cost the justice $299,920.
Per Insider, Thomas wrote in his memoir 16 years ago "he was still paying off" loans "from his law school days when he was appointed to the bench in 1991 — nearly two decades post-graduation.
Regarding Thomas' fellow conservative, former President Donald Trump appointed justices, Insider reports:
When Justice Brett Kavanaugh graduated from Yale as an undergraduate in 1987, it would have cost an estimated $57,990. Now, four years at Yale would cost around $338,100, according to the memo. A year later, in 1988, Justice Neil Gorsuch would graduate from Columbia University, costing an estimated $64,900 for four years. Now that cost is around $343,868.
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Still, according to Forbes, the GOP leaders who filed the brief challenging Biden's plan argue, "'Though concerns about the rising costs of higher education and the amount of outstanding student loan debt have been part of the public discourse for decades (and long before COVID-19), the idea that the Executive Branch could unilaterally cancel student loan debt on a mass basis without Congressional authority was not seriously entertained' by any prior administration."
Yet, Insider reports:
According to the justice's own financial disclosures, as well as reporting from The Associated Press, some of the justices have put aside large investments for their own children's college funds. Four of the seven justices who have children have invested in tax-free college savings accounts for their children. The AP reported that Roberts had at least $600,000 invested in an account for his two children, while Gorsuch has at least $300,000.
READ MORE: Joe Biden extends student loan payment freeze as 'baseless political lawsuits' threaten aid
Business Insider's full report is available at this link (subscription required). Forbes' report is here.
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