The Trillion Dollar Student Loan Horror Story

04/28/2011 04:43 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2012

Do you know what a trillion dollars looks like? That's the amount of debt student loans are expected to top this year. A trillion -- flipping -- dollars. The bar has been raised higher: a trillion is the new billion when it comes to mammoth debt.

In case you're wondering, a trillion dollars looks sort of like this:

A trillion dollars = $1,000,000,000,000

That's a whopping 12 zeroes; a trillion is a million million dollars. To put it more into relatable perspective: a trillion dollars is more than what Bill Gates makes in a year!

How did this occur to our private student loan system? Isn't it great that we live in a system where higher education isn't a right -- but a means for the banking system to lasso us into a lifetime of crippling debt. It takes the average college student 24 years to pay off their student loan. It gets better: once you graduate your wages could be garnished if you don't repay your loan.

With the golden carrot of being rich and successful after graduation, this precisely sums up the student loan system. Remember, you'll be rich and successful!