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Ecology of Money

How to Reduce--or Eliminate--the Need for Student Loans

Use these tools and strategies to secure a degree that doesn't leave your family with debt for decades, writes contributor John Wasik.

One of the most pernicious financial maladies facing Americans today is college loan debt. At $1.3 trillion--and climbing--it is the second-largest consumer debt burden after mortgages.

This crippling mass loan obligation has gotten so pervasive that it's even following people into retirement. Moreover, student loans are virtually impossible to get rid of unless you pay them off--you generally can't discharge them in bankruptcy.