FLORENCE, Ala. (WAAY) - Student loan debt is the highest its ever been.
"I'm in debt," says Nichell Lyle a Senior at the University of North Alabama. Lyle says her degree is coming at a high cost. "I currently I have about $34,000 in student loan debt," she said.
Lyle isn't alone. its estimated nation wide that 71% of college students will graduate with some type of student loan debt, averaging about $29,000 per student.
Alabama ranks a little lower than that only having 53% of college students graduating with debt.
James Wallace another Senior at UNA has dreams of becoming an English Teacher, but he's had to take out multiple student loans to keep that dream alive. "Its definitely something you have to think about every semester when you're taking out, and you see your debt mounting up and growing. It can be a scary thing," says Wallace.
Student loan debt now reaches a staggering one trillion dollars nation wide, a record high that shows no sign of slowing. On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order to help students lessen their debt by capping repayments at 10% of their monthly income.
Wallace says the real stress will come when he graduates.
"First off you have to find a job and thats tough to do. When you find a job you have to make enough to pay those loans back," says Wallace.
For those who are already repaying, reality can be harsh. Janessa Diggings is a 2014 UNA graduated. She says her degree has put her $48,000 in debt.
"The way I calculated it because I started off paying the lowest about about 25 years but hopefully I can get it paid off before 25 years," says Diggins.
Diggins currently works as a Digital Producer. She admits dealing with the loans has been nerve racking, but doesn't regret her decision to go into debt. "I'm doing something that I love. I would probably be doing something that I hate and regretting everyday that I didn't go to school," she said.
In 2003 student loan debt was at 240 billion dollars. A little over ten years later and its triple that number.