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The student debt trap is an unholy alliance between the big banks and the feds, and to a large degree the colleges that have run up their costs several times faster than the general rate of inflation. Part of that is over spending on sports complexes, dorms getting fancier and fancier, cafeterias becoming food courts like at the mall, and so on. Guidance counselors need to do a better job than they are, but in the end it is the students and their parents that need to become a whole lot smarter in evaluating the costs of a given school and what exactly the student can realistically expect to do with the chosen degree. Another piece driving the debt are kids that take 5 and 6 years to earn a 4 year degree. My golden rule for my kids was you have 4 years to get a 4 year degree. It was non-negotiable. Twice my son ended a school year short a class and I made him make it up over the summer and pay for it himself being I had already paid for it during the regular school year.