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Crushing student debt

If you're fortunate enough not to have any experience with student loans, yesterday's posting on the student loan racket probably didn't mean much to you.

This, from the Wall Street Journal, should explain why student debt is a big problem:

"Americans owe some $826.5 billion in revolving credit, according to June 2010 figures from the Federal Reserve. (Most of revolving credit is credit-card debt.) Student loans outstanding today — both federal and private — total some $829.785 billion, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com."

Kantowitz compares the growth in student loan debt to "cooking a lobster."

"The increase in total student debt occurs slowly but steadily, so by the time you notice that the water is boiling, you're already cooked," he says.

That's an excellent description. It also works because college students are essentially as helpless as lobsters. They know they need a degree to get a decent-paying job and there is really no choice but to pay what it costs to get that degree.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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