By Chris Gates.
Total student loan debt in the United States was $1.2 trillion last May, before the 2013-14 school year even began, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Institute for College Access and Success reports that the class of 2012 carried an average debt load of $29,400, nearly $3,000 more than the class of 2011.
Congress attempted to throw current college students a lifeline this past summer, passing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. The bill, signed into law by President Obama on Aug. 9, lowers interest rates on nearly all new student loans taken out after July 1, 2013. Some in Congress believe more needs to be done—for example, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants students to get the same 0.75 percent rate on loans that the Federal Reserve gives to big banks. While Congress tries to figure out a solution, borrowers need to address their individual situations. A few ideas to get you started: