Pop quiz! Do you know how much student loan debt totals?


by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor

DES MOINES, Iowa — As college students pull their hair out stressing over midterm exams before hitting the beach for spring break, a very real and dreadful aspect of higher education is looming: student loan debt.

According to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, outstanding student loan balances nationwide equal to an exorbitant $1.31 trillion — and the trend indicates it’s not going away anytime soon. The amount is up $31 billion dollars from last quarter, and student loan debt is increasing a rate of $2,667.2 per second.

The average cost of a single college course credit, according to a Student Loan Hero study, is $594.46, which doesn’t include the cost of textbooks.

Student loans are the second-highest contributors of national debt, which stands at $19.97 trillion as of Tuesday night, and is second to mortgage debt which accounts for 67 percent. Auto loans come in third with 9 percent of the national debt pool, according to federal data.

And students have a bad track record of paying back their debt, data show. In the fourth quarter of 2016, 11.2 percent of all student loan debt was either 90 or more days delinquent or in default, surpassing auto loans (around 4 percent delinquent) and credit card loans (around 7 percent delinquent).

Experts say refinancing loans could make student loan payments smaller because it reduces the interest rate.