Take a deep breath, Class of 2017: it's not as grim as it seems.
The student loan totals for this year's graduates aren't officially in yet, but college and scholarship site Cappex put the Class of 2017's student loan debt at an average of $37,172 per student. That's up 6% from 2015, with debt carried by 70.1% of all graduates. That's also up from $12,759 two decades ago, when just 54% of all students graduated with debt.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes that total student loan debt reached $1.21 trillion by the end of 2016. That's up $78 billion from a year earlier and is the second largest pile of U.S. consumer debt behind mortgage debt (at $8.48 trillion, up $231 billion from a year ago). More than one in ten student loans are past due. That's a worse delinquency rate than for credit card bills, of which 7% are past due. In March, credit bureau Equifax put outstanding student loan balances at $1.334 trillion, up 8.8% from a year ago. More than 1.2 million student loans were taken out in the first three months of the year, accounting for $10.17 billion -- a 22% increase over the value of those loans at the same time last year.
And, no, you aren't getting help with paying back those loans. The Department of Education has been wavering on its commitment to forgive student loans for public-service workers after ten years of payments. The federal student loan interest rate is set to rise by more than half a percentage point.