Americans' combined student loan debt now tops 1 trillion dollars, with a staggering 37 million people facing debt from college.
"If you graduate with a B.A. or doctorate and you get the same job at the same place, you make the same amount of money," William Elliott III, director of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, told The Associated Press.
"But that money will actually mean less to you in the sense of accumulating assets in the long term."
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Most student loans can be repaid in 10 years, but many take much longer.
Students without loans can begin purchasing homes and making other investments earlier in life. Allen Aston, who graduated from Ohio State University without debt because of academic and financial-need scholarships, has been able to contribute 6 percent of his salary as a software engineer to his retirement fund.
"I'm making the same money as them, but they have student loans they're paying back that I don't. So, it definitely seems noticeable," Aston told The Associated Press.
Nida Degesys, who graduated from Northeast Ohio Medical University in May 2013 with about $180,000 in loans, told the AP that interest has ballooned the total to about $220,000.
"There were times where this would make me stay up at night," Degesys said. "The principal alone is a problem, but the interest is staggering."
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin
, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, expressed concern that a 2006 law to remove borrowing limits for graduate students has worsened student debt.
"Why would (the government) grant loans with no limits? I don't get that," Mr. Harkin said. "I'm going to look at how this came about in 2005, whose idea was this, how did this develop."
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