If You Went to College Recently, You're in Debt. Big Time.

When I interviewed Elizabeth Warren for PBS back in 2005 for a story about bankruptcy, she turned to me after the cameras were off and said, "In about five years, you're going to be coming back to me to talk about student loan debt." Warren, you may know, is the former chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel that investigated TARP. She is an expert in bankruptcy and debt and the author of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke. And now we know she was off--but only by about a year.

Student loan debt, totaling more than $800 billion, topped credit card debt for the first time--last year, according to the Project on Student Debt, the average was $24,000, and default rates are rising. The New York Times has this depressing note: "'In the coming years, a lot of people will still be paying off their student loans when it’s time for their kids to go to college,' said Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of FinAid.org and Fastweb.com, who has compiled the estimates of student debt, including federal and private loans."

Keep in mind that as Congress prepares to debate raising the debt ceiling likely means slashing Pell grants for low income students, and state budget woes have already increased tuition at public colleges and universities.

--Michele Mitchell