05/02/2012 10:57 am ET

Nicole Ferko Puts Off Plans To Become A Nun To Pay Off Student Loans: Report

Ten years is a long time. It's one-eighth of an average American's life.

It is also the amount of time that Nicole Ferko, 32, had to wait before pursuing her dream of becoming a nun.

Aspiring priests and nuns are not allowed to carry debt, according to the Today Show. Burdened with $60,000 in student loans, Ferko spent 10 years paying off her debt, accumulating another $20,000 in credit card debt that she eventually paid off.

Ferko is now in training, but she won't become a nun until she is 39 years old.

Have you been forced to change your life plans because of student debt? Email us at

Student loan debt has caused many people to derail life plans and as the debt market balloons, the problem is also threatening the nation's economic recovery.

Total outstanding student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the average borrower $12,800 in debt.

The top 1 percent of student borrowers owe more than $150,000 in loans, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It would take a salary of at least $207,000 per year in order to pay off $150,000 in 10 years, according to the FinAid calculator.

More than one-quarter of student loan borrowers are behind on their student loans, according to the New York Fed.

Student loan debt is nearly possible to erase. People who declare bankruptcy cannot get student loan debt forgiven unless they can prove that their student loans are an "undue hardship."