For recent graduates, their student loan debt may very well shape the rest of their lives.
Over the last decade, college-loan balances in the United States have jumped more than $833 billion to reach an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to a recent report by Experian.
The average outstanding balance is now $34,144, up 62 percent over the last 10 years. In addition, the percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has tripled over the same time period, according to a separate report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to make in a lifetime — right after purchasing a home.