NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Ready for a scary stat? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, private and federal student loan debt has collectively topped the $1 trillion mark.

The CFPB discovered the sobering number during its early look into the private student loan sector that was announced earlier this month. Data from the Department of Education revealed that last year students borrowed $117 billion just in federal student loans, and also indicated that student loan debt isn’t growing just from new borrowers. Instead, many existing borrowers have been unable to keep up with interest payments, and debt is growing even for many who have left school.

“It seems that this market is too big to fail,” wrote Rohit Chopra, the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman, in a blog post. We will continue our conversations with many of you about the steps you have already taken to reduce risk in private student lending. And we can keep exploring what can be done within the realm of consumer financial protection for those who have already graduated with too much private student loan debt.”

The CFPB expects to release the full results of its study on the private student loan market this summer. Until then, it is encouraging student borrowers to submit feedback on its financial aid shopping sheet, which is intended to help students understand the debt implications of their college choice. Other tools for comparing loan repayment options are available on its website. You can also continue to submit complaints regarding student loan providers here.

Confused by student loan jargon? Check out MainStreet’s roundup of 10 Student Loan Terms Explained for some help.

—Jeanine Skowronski is staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach her by email at, or follow her on Twitter at @JeanineSko.