A new report says the amount of student debt in Michigan rose sharply during the recent recession.
The price of tuition at state universities has also been climbing steadily in recent years, as the state has cut its budget for higher education. This year, state funding for universities was cut 15 percent.
"We are saddling the young professionals we most want to attract to Michigan with years of debt," says Center for Michigan Executive Director John Bebow. He calls it a knowledge tax.
"We're talking about this huge student debt increase during what were some of the toughest years ever in the Michigan economy," he says. "So you are seeing cash-strapped families turning more and more to student debt to help students get a chance on a more prosperous life."
An analysis done by the center found that students at Michigan's public universities borrowed more than $1.8 billion dollars in 2010, a 49 percent increase compared to the amount of student loans taken out in 2007. And Bebow says much of the increase was in unsubsidized loans at higher interest rates.
The numbers show that university students spent more borrowed money in 2010 than the State of Michigan will spend on higher education this year.