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.
The change is due in part to Americans paying down credit card debt and increased credit card regulations, according to the Journal.The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed in March, promises to regulate the student loan industry by omitting private lenders in hopes of saving the government and the taxpayer money.
Still, many struggle under the weight of student loans -- and there's no easy out. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, bankruptcy is not an automatic option:
To discharge student loans in any bankruptcy filing, you need to prove "undue hardship." What does undue hardship mean in non-legal terms? According to bankruptcy judge John Ninfo, you or your dependent has to have a mental or physical condition that prevents you from working. Just not being able to afford your payments doesn't cut it.
And as for using credit cards to pay for college -- not such a great idea. According to TheStreet.com:
84% of college students had at least one credit card in 2009, up from 76% in 2004. The average amount of debt carried by college cardholders is $3,173 which represents a 46% increase over the 2004 figure of $2,169. The average number of cards per student is 4.6. Only 17% pay off their entire balance each month and 22% make just the minimum payment.