America’s total outstanding student loan debt will cross the $1 trillion threshold for the first time this year, putting those loans ahead of credit cards as the country’s biggest source of debt, USA Today reports, citing figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Student lending has doubled over the past 10 years, even after adjusting for inflation. Students took out more than $100 billion in new loans last year, the first time they’ve crossed that line.
These loans are largely risk-free for banks and taxpayers, because Congress has made it nearly impossible to escape them—even bankruptcy can’t cancel them out. “It’s going to create a generation of wage slavery,” says Seeking Alpha blogger Nick Pardini, who recently dubbed student loans “the next major credit bubble.” Student loan debt has become a major issue for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, some of whom are circulating a petition calling for complete forgiveness of student loans, Fox News reports.