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How will we defeat the $1 trillion student loan monster?

Do you know how much outstanding student loan debt there is nationwide?

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The figure is more than $1 trillion.

Some say it's only a matter of time before we have our first American trillionaire. For the rest of us, it takes around 40 million college-educated Americans to reach that number, in the form of outstanding student loan debt.

As much as it is "inevitable" that we will have our first trillionaire within the next few decades, says Silicon Valley star Sam Altman (perhaps someone like Elon Musk?), dealing with the flip side of the coin - people who struggle financially - will inevitably need to be dealt with, as borrowers strain under student debt loads.

And, in general, as the gap between rich and poor in the nation grows even wider.

If you thought all this debt lies only with millennials who studied hipsterism at a $50K per semester liberal arts college - a prevailing myth - and who now struggle to pay back their loans, you'd be wrong. It's not just the students themselves who struggle. Older Americans (parents, grandparents) are taking money out of their retirement accounts to help pay student debt, according to Consumer Reports.

"Among borrowers 65 and older with federal loans," says Consumer Reports, "nearly 40 percent were in default." These figures account for both parents and grandparents who financed their own educations by taking out student loans for themselves, as well as those who financed their children's or grandchildren's educations by co-signing on student loans.

So, how will we defeat the student loan monster? In some cases, bankruptcy is an option, though it can be difficult to discharge student loans. (This is, however, slowly getting better.) At any rate, we'll need to start coming up with solid answers to this question.

Read more:

A Silicon Valley mogul says a world with trillionaires is inevitable - here's how it'll happen

Older Americans are sacrificing retirement to pay off student debt

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