What was Barack and Michelle Obama’s total student debt load when they graduated from Columbia/Princeton and Harvard Law School? I haven’t been able to find anything credible on this via google search.
I ask because Obama’s stump speech often plays on the “I had massive student loans, and the opportunity to work on Wall Street, but I went to the South Side of Chicago instead.” I would like to know more specifics about his financial situation to be able to relate to just what kind of sacrifice/opportunity cost that career decision amounted to.
Michelle has said that the family didn’t pay off their student loans until Barack wrote his two books. Since they graduated from HLS in 1988 year over year tuition inflation has averaged 5.94% (nearly twice CPI inflation at 2.99%).
Ok I little more google research and I found it (Big Ups to Lynn Sweet of the Sun Times for actually doing investigative journalism on this):
The Obamas complain about their college debt, but they did attend expensive schools. Obama took out $42,753 in loans to pay for Harvard tuition. Michelle signed notes for $40,762 in loans for her Harvard years.
Obama had a full scholarship for his freshman year at Occidental, taking out loans — the best I could get was “tens of thousands” to pay for the rest of his undergraduate school, with some help from his grandparents. At Princeton, as mentioned, Michelle had the work-study grant, got some help from her folks and took out “tens of thousands” of loans to pay tuition.
It sounds like Barack’s total debt load was around $75,000 and Michelle’s was probably a little less. As a point of comparison, I’ll graduate with a two-year masters with a total of about $120,000 borrowed…a 1989 value of $66,441, assuming a 3% inflation rate.
There is no way in hell I could justify going to work as a “community organizer” come next year. That’s a huge testament to Obama’s character, in my book.