US Supreme Court knocked down President Joe Biden student loan forgiveness plan Friday, yet college affordability will remain an issue for years to come, experts say, causing more students to opt out entirely.

Due to High Court‘s judgment against affirmative action admissions policy also, “it’s very appropriate for us to be concerned,” said Kelly Slay, assistant professor of higher education and public policy at Vanderbilt University. “Instead of expanding opportunities, we are adding barriers.”

Michele Shepard, senior director of college affordability at The Institute for College Access & Success, added that “this debt-financed system is unsustainable.”

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“We continue to be concerned that the high cost of college — including not only tuition but also housing, food, transportation and other living expenses — is forcing students to second-guess enrollment,” she said.

College is just more expensive

Tuition and fees have more than doubled in 20 years, reaching an average of $10,940 in the 2022-23 academic year at the state’s four-year public colleges. According to four-year private colleges, it now costs $39,400 College Boardwhich follows trends in university pricing and student aid.

“The [Supreme Court] This decision still does little to erase the enormous burden caused by exponential tuition increases,” said analyst Sarah Foster.

Many students borrow to cover debt, which has fueled collective student loan debt in the US in the past 1.7 trillion dollars.

Typically seven out of 10 college seniors graduate in red numbersowes an average of nearly $30,000 per borrower, according to the latest data from Institute for College Access and Success.

A recent report shows that this year’s class of incoming freshmen will rely even more heavily on loans in their pursuit of a degree at a public college or university.

A high school graduate could take on an average of $37,300 in student debt in 2023 to earn a bachelor’s degree. NerdWallet analysis data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The share of parents taking out federal Parent PLUS loans to help cover the cost of their children’s college education has also increased, NerdWallet found.

A wave of students may opt out of college

Between the high cost of college and the burden of student loans, students are increasingly questioning the value of a four-year degree.

“I started looking for the cheapest route and the least amount of debt,” said Parker O’Neill, 18, who will start a two-year dental assisting program at Century College Community and Technical College this fall. in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Watching his mother struggle to pay off her own debt was the deciding factor, he said.

High school students are also placing more emphasis on vocational training and employment after college, which is more recent ECMC Group report found.

About two-thirds, or 65%, of high school seniors think post-secondary education is necessary, the report said, but among low-income, first-generation or minority students, only 47% are considering a four-year college.

How to avoid excessive student debt

With debt relief from the table“People should realize now that they have to be careful,” said Kalman Chany, a financial aid consultant and author of The Princeton Review’s “Paying for College.”

High school students need to plan ahead, he said maximizing gift aid, such as scholarships and grants that do not need to be repaid; choosing schools that are affordable; and don’t borrow more than they expect to earn in their first year out of college.

Above all, prospective students should “be very careful about how much they borrow,” Chany said.

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