Nightly News   |  March 22, 2012

Nation’s college debt exceeds credit card debt

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced student loan debt has reached $1 trillion, a new record. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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>> there's a staggering new number out tonight from the federal government . student loan dent in the country has reached $1 trillion. that's a record. it's also more than americans owe on credit cards . and the implications here, like the numbers, are enormous. our report from our chief education respondent, rehema ellis.

>> maria recently got a masters in education to improve her job prospects, but at 31, married with one child and another on the way, she said the cost of her degree is a burden.

>> it's a terrible way to start a marriage with someone, to have those extra stresses on you.

>> with $50,000 in student loans , a stack of other bills, and a teacher's salary of $35,000, she said she barely makes ends meet.

>> it's scary.

>> two thirds of the class of 2010 graduating lowing an average of $25,000 in student loans . more than a quarter of those students are behind on their payments where.

>> my credit was shot because of defaulting on payments and defehring loans.

>> the cost of a public school education is nearly $21,000 a year. private college , $36,000. unlike other debt that can be forgiven in bankruptcy, student loans for the most part, cannot. that in fact, not just the borrower, but the national as well.

>> if you could discharge the student loan , you could rebuild your credit and get back to someone who does buy a house, that helps the housing economy.

>> experts say there are ways to manage the debt. talk with your lenders. work out a repayment plan that fits your budget.

>> if your dent to income ratio is a certain percentage, your payments can be as little as $45 or $15 or zero.

>> she's paying interest only.

>> that's the scary thing. we're just buying time, but we're prolonging the inevitable that you have to pay it.

>> a lesson she hopes her children will learn before they're old enough to go to college.

>> what do you want to draw a picture of?

>> rehema ellis, nbc news wroorb.