Its value is estimated at more than $1 Trillion...
Is it the 2014 U.S. government-spending bill?
Is it the 282 billion Big Macs?
Is it 3.1 million Ferrari 599 GTBs?
Is it the amount of U.S. currency currently in circulation?
All of the above are estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion and so is student loan debt in the United States. Outstanding student loans are roughly equal to all of the greenbacks circulating the world. According to The Wall Street Journal:
"Ever-escalating tuitions, especially in the past dozen years, have produced an explosion of associated debt as students and their families resorted to borrowing to cover college prices that are the only major expense item in the economy that is growing faster than health care. According to the Federal Reserve, educational debt has shot past every other category - credit cards, auto loans, refinancings - except home mortgages, reaching some $1.3 trillion this year."
The Journal said about 70 percent of 2014 graduates borrowed to pay for college, and they left school with an average debt of $33,000. The amount owed varies significantly by state, according to U.S. News & World Report. In 2013, students in New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Minnesota graduated with debt exceeding $30,000 on average, while those in New Mexico, California, Nevada, the District of Columbia, and Oklahoma had debt of less than $20,000 on average.
While there may be some attractive alternatives for student borrowers - including income-based repayment loans and crowdfunding for college - the Journal cited statistics showing America's student debt could be negatively affecting our country's economic dynamism. The percentage of younger Americans who own part of a business dropped from 6.1 percent to 3.6 percent between 2010 and 2013. Also, during the past decade, the percentage of new businesses started by people younger than age 34 fell from 26.4 percent to 22.7 percent.