It’s that time of year again. Thousands of college students across the state of Wisconsin are donning caps and gowns before receiving their hard-earned diplomas.

While receiving a college diploma is definitely something that should make a person proud, the debt it takes to get there is also causing a feeling of anxiety for many recent graduates.

Following graduation day, graduates know that they will have to immediately put their degrees to use in order to pay back the student debt they accumulated during the four years (or more) that they devoted to their education.

According to the most recent reports, Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, which is the largest source of personal debt for Americans other than mortgage loans.

The student debt crisis was discussed last week at an event held in Madison, Wisconsin, where students and graduates shared their stories and politicians proposed solutions.

A UW-Madison graduate cried when she described graduating with more than $50,000 in student loans and wanting to pursue a law degree but being afraid of taking on even more debt.

Another Wisconsin resident said he was forced to join the military and serve in Afghanistan as a way to afford his college expenses after the tuition at UW-Stevens Point jumped significantly during his first two years.

“Two-thirds of Americans now leave college drowning in debt, unable to achieve their dreams or contribute to the economy in a meaningful way,” said U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, before saying that Congress needs to make “college education as affordable and accessible as possible.”

Check back tomorrow for part two of this two-part post. 

Source: Progressive.org, “Debt Casts a Shadow on Graduation,” May 16, 2014