Student debt burden hits $1 trillion

At $1 trillion nationally, student debt surpasses credit card debt and car loans, and it can be a serious drag on the economy. Here, a student studies in the main library at the University College London.

Jeremy Hobson: President Obama will be in Iowa today talking to college students about their loans. The president wants to prevent a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates that's supposed to take effect this summer. Mitt Romney is also pushing for a freeze on student loan interest rates -- but let's put the politics aside for a moment and focus on the issue.

By some estimates, there is now a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, as Sally Herships reports.


Sally Herships: How much is $1 trillion of student debt?


Mark Kantrowitz:
There's more student debt outstanding than credit card debt outstanding, more student loan than auto loans outstanding.

That's Mark Kantrowitz. He publishes Finaid.org, a website about paying for college. He says student loan payments total $60 billion a year. That can drag down the economy. Graduates are still paying for their education instead of:

Kantrowitz: Buying a car, buying a house, getting married, having children, saving for retirement.

Tianna Kennedy is 34 and has a masters degree from N.Y.U. She was hoping to become a professor but now she works as farmer and earns $8 an hour. She still has over $80,000 in debt.

Tianna Kennedy: In retrospect, I really wish I hadn't gone to get a master's because I'm doing wage labor work. I feel like I'm in bondage for the rest of my life.

In New York, I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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