If the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is right, the total outstanding student loan debt in the United States now stands at above $1 trillion dollars. In economic terms, that changes very little about what we already knew regarding college borrowing. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York had previously pegged the figure at $870 billion by the end of 2011. Either number would be larger than America’s collective credit card balance.
But psychologically, it’s a sad threshold. A trillion dollars — it brings home just how enormous the burden is quickly becoming. […]
And so we’ve reached a point where two-thirds of college seniors now graduate in debt, where a total of 37 million Americans now owe money on their education. Sixty-seven percent are between the ages of 18 and 39, but recent research suggests the fastest growing group of borrowers may bein middle age — people who have been laid off from jobs or are afraid their professional skills aren’t fresh enough to keep up with a changing economy. Among all borrowers, the median balance is $12,800. Thanks to a select group of students who are deeply in debt, the average is skewed higher, at $28,000. For young graduates — or dropouts, for that matter — the debt will drag on their finances well into adulthood. For the adults, it’s an investment they may not have a time to recoup.
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