Students pull a mock 'ball & chain' representing the $1.4 trilling outstanding student debt at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2016.
Students pull a mock 'ball & chain' representing the $1.4 trilling outstanding student debt at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2016. - 
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Picture this: After years of hard work, the world is your oyster. You're about to graduate with an advanced degree into a prestigious field. Then, you're out to lunch and you see a restaurant manager position that pays just as much as your hopeful starting salary, but without the student debt attached. One of our listeners was in that position recently. And he's not alone: Americans face $1.3+ trillion in student debt, and less assurance the job market's going to provide salaries to cover it. We put this soul searching to Maura Reynolds, a senior editor at Politico, who's just out with new findings on the skills-education-employment pipeline.

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Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal