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Student Loan Debt Outstanding - $556 billion

Paying for college is a major expense, and according to the US Department of Education, total outstanding federal student loans is $556 billion. According to the College Board, federal loans account for 77% of all education loans.

Non-federal, private-sector loans are not included in the total, as these types of loans are offered by numerous institutions and there is no reliable measure of total private education loans outstanding. However, according to College Board estimates, in 2007-08 the total amount of student loans disbursed by private institutions totaled $17.60 billion, up 592% from the 1997-98 total of $2.54 billion.

The volume of private loans today is a relatively recent phenomenon. In comparison, last year Federal education loans totaled $66.81 billion, up 70% from totals 10 years earlier.

Photo: Andrew Schwegler