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Is student loans the next debt crisis?

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Wash Post:

The amount of student loan debt has skyrocketed in recent years to a total of $867 billion last year — or more than the $704 billion in outstanding U.S. credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Of the 37 million borrowers who have outstanding student loan balances as of third-quarter 2011, 14.4 percent have at least one past-due student loan account.
I've often wondered how much money is sucked out of the economy in the form of future student loan payments that would otherwise go towards buying a house, for example. How much do people forgo in future spending that goes towards loan repayment instead? I know I held off on buying my first place for a long time because of my $60,000 in graduate school/law loans - I was paying the equivalent of a month's rent per month on my loans after I graduated - and even once they were paid off I felt like I was starting at zero in terms of saving for my downpayment. And to what degree are we channeling people towards higher paying jobs that they might not want, simply to be able to pay off their debt burden (and skewing their happiness in addition to perhaps steering people away from more creative, or more public service oriented, careers)?

I've just always been curious as to the economic impact, and social impact, of the high cost of education in this country.

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