US 20,000, Ireland 0 (College Tuition Edition)

Last week, student loan rates doubled as Congress failed to come to an agreement to prevent rates from going up. Rates will now jump to around 6.8 percent.

This comes on top of already rapidly rising tuition rates. According to the Department of Education, the average cost of tuition, room, and board for a college student in the latest data available was $18,497 — $22,092 for students at four-year colleges.

But if students were in Ireland, they’d pay a lot less. To start with, they wouldn’t pay a penny in tuition, college is fully subsidized. They would be paying only for their room and board, and a small student fee at some schools (it was around 2,000 Euros average in 2011).

Americans pay more for their college than any comparable nation — something that has actually driven some students overseas to attend school, with 10,000 Americans seeking their education in Canada and 15,000 in the UK in 2012.

There have been some programs floated to reduce this burden on American students. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has floated a plan to reduce student loan interest rates to the same low rates Wall Street banks get from the Federal Reserve while Congress works on a more long-term solution. And lawmakers in Oregon are working on an innovative plan to make college tuition-free while students are attending and then have the students who went to four-year public universities pay back 3 percent of their future salaries over twenty years in order to fund college education (students at other schools like community college would pay less).

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