It's the latest hot-button issue on the campaign trail and in Congress. But for students set to graduate this spring, the financial consequences of student loan debt could be more dire than any politics, and the ripple effects could impact all of us.
For students, the current hot political debate isn't rhetoric. It's reality.
Courting the youth vote, President Obama urged Congress to keep rates on federally-subsidized student loans steady. It set up a showdown with house Republicans on how to pay for it.
But for the class of 2012, this is more than politics.
United States student loan debt is at a record high -- $870 billion dollars. That's more than credit card debt and more than car loans--and delinquencies rose last year.
Dan Press of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says the consequences could haunt the economy for decades.
“These are people, educated people, who will essentially be dropping out of economy, not achieving goals because of student loans,” said Press. “Can't get houses, build credit, because everything will be going to pay off these student loans.”
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has been among those pushing for overall student loan reform -- including a proposal to make it easier to discharge loans during bankruptcy.
He says the burden isn't the student's alone.
“Students and parents and grandparents are defaulting on loans,” said Durbin. “Students are getting too deep into debt to finish college their college education.”
For some, relief on any level -- can't come fast enough.