College Debt Worse Than Credit Cards: Worth It?

My friend, Larissa, tells a story about a collections agent who called while she was working at an entry-level job for a non-profit and having a hard time making payments on her student loans.

"You can't use your degree if you can't pay for it!" the woman almost shrieked at poor Larissa. Even though she's long since paid off her debts, she still remembers that phone call -- not just with humor, but with embarrassment, too.

While it's impossible to prevent someone from using their education or degree, more and more people are vulnerable to such ridiculous threats. That's because student loan debt, which has flowed like water -- or more like home equity lines -- over the past 15 or 20 years, has grown to such an enormous level that American student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt and will likely be $1 trillion by the end of the year. And as credit card limits shrink, student loan availability seems to resist all good sense and propriety -- which might be fine, if indeed student loans were a worthwhile investment.

But more and more finance experts are saying, "They're not."