The past few weeks brought more signs of crisis in American Higher Ed.
For some time now, the average debt burden for college graduates has exceeded $20,000. According to some reports, that level has now reached ~$25,000; here is a link to this statistic in 2011:
NY Times: Student Debt Burden (from Nov 2011)
We continue to see weakening employment statistics for college graduates. According to a recent report entitled "Chasing the American Dream" from Rutgers University, only 51% of the study pool were actually employed full-time after graduation, and the median starting salaries for all graduates is now ~$28,000. Here is a link to the Rutgers report (warning, slightly large pdf file):
Rutgers Report: Chasing the American Dream (pdf)
The effect of the recession is not as great as one might think: during the worst period of the recession, the median salary dipped to $27,000, and pre-recession, the median was $30,000- hardly an acceptable number, given the rising cost of a college education. As I and many others have been lamenting for several years, American Higher Ed has been lurching toward crisis for quite some time; current events are not at all spurious.
Obviously, the debt burden far exceeds many students' ability to handle it; the typical guideline for maximum debt is ~30% of salary.
Also of great concern is the mismatch between the education and the employment that the graduates find. Only 40% of the respondents in the Rutgers study found employment in a position that actually required a college degree; only 20% perceived their job to be on their career path.