An Aug. 25, 1972 article about the growing need for student loans from Hebrew Free Loan.
An Aug. 25, 1972 article about the growing need for student loans from Hebrew Free Loan.

50 years ago this week, our newspaper was talking about student loans

On Aug. 24, President Joe Biden announced that the federal government would cancel up to $20,000 in unpaid student loans for some debtors. It’s a big step for a country with about $1.620 trillion outstanding in student loan debt to the government alone.

On Aug. 25, 1972, this paper was also talking about student loans. A special spread covering the 75th anniversary of the Hebrew Free Loan included a brief article dedicated to the fairly new concept of student loans.

The first student loans had been given out by Hebrew Free Loan eight years earlier, and the demand was high and growing:

“From a modest beginning the student loans have burgeoned to the point where current student loan accounts receivable is at $110,000 a far cry from the $9,000 of 1964.”

The maximum student loan was then $750, although you could apply for more than one.

At that time, the cost of attending a University of California was under $200 for California residents. Originally the University of California was free for locals; according to UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, the Daily Californian, 1970 was the first year that fees were instituted: $150 per year for undergraduates and $180 per year for graduate students.

Today, tuition and fees come close to $19,500 for California residents (not including lodging or food costs).

“The free loan group also called attention to the remarkable record of repayment by the student borrowers,” the 1972 spread continued. “In eight years, and with loans totalling $165,000, only one student loan of $110 had to be written off as a bad debt. This fact is all the more significant when contrasted with the recent report on the status of the federal government student loans showing more than 25 percent in uncollected loans outstanding.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.