ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As lawmakers in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. try to tackle deficits and debt, they're keeping a close eye on the debt college graduates are racking up.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken wanted to hear directly from students about the issue at a roundtable at St. Paul College on Tuesday.
Americans now owe $1 trillion on their student loans, eclipsing the amount they owe on their credit cards.
"It's loans, loans and more loans," Dayton told the students.
"This is a trend we're seeing and it's not good. I don't think it's good for America and it's certainly not good for our young people," Franken remarked.
But the two lawmakers were there to listen. They came away inspired after hearing from students. They heard from K. Taylor, a chef from Minneapolis, who quit her job a couple years ago so she could go back to school and get a doctorate.
"I can't go for small potatoes anymore. I need to go all the way. I need to go to the top so that I can secure my place in this world and create change," Taylor told KARE 11.
Paying for the first year of school wasn't a problem as Taylor still had money she had made as a chef, but tuition took a big bite out of her savings in the next couple of years and soon she was seeking scholarships, financial aid and student loans.
Dayton told the panel that the state's financial aid program hasn't been updated in more than a decade. Franken said Minnesotans graduate with a median number of $29,000 in debt.
It's not great news for Taylor who has about seven more years of college left. She says she's not deterred.
"It's so important for our country to have people coming up in this world that are going to do great things and create change for our society," she concluded, promising to continue to talk to state and national lawmakers about their recipe for higher education funding.
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