04/23/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Graduates' College Debt Drives Career Choices, Students Can't Afford Nonprofit Jobs

But as Simpson visits job fairs and works on her resume, she's wondering if her initial dream of working for a nonprofit organization is still possible. A large reason: the $50,000 in student loans, plus interest, she'll have to start paying back six months after graduation.

"I do want to work for a not-for-profit, but I do have this huge debt to worry about," Simpson said recently, sitting on the bleachers of the Carrier Dome during a job fair down on the turf. "There's this lingering feeling that I owe someone money. I know it's doable to pay it off, but if I don't get a good-paying job or move up quickly, it could take 10 or 15 years to pay it off."