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More than 40% of borrowers are in default or behind on student loan payments

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Even if the end of the world comes tomorrow, don't hold your breath: your student loans will still be there the day after. They're kind of the financial version of Twinkies.

"Student loans will not go away in bankruptcy," explained LaTasha Goudeau, Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid at the University of Houston-Downtown.

However, the big picture may explode soon.  The U.S. Department of Education says more than 40% of the nearly 22 million borrowers with federal student loans are in default or behind on their payments.

"I can only pay what I can pay," expressed Psychology student Tiffany Henderson. "I'm not worried about it. I mean: you can't take me to jail for not being able to pay the student loan."

That's true: they won't put you in jail for defaulting your student loans. But your credit score will suffer it badly. So, if you're getting ready for college or just finished your four year degree, pay attention to this piece of advice.

"Student loans are not a bad thing," said Goudeau. "They're there to assist you with getting your college education. But I would just be cautious with it. Our job is to help students understand the benefits of student loan borrowing and what their options and responsibilities are.

Some presidential candidates promised they will change the system if elected.  But in the meantime, here's what you can do if your debt is about to eat you alive.

"There are several repayment plans that the servicer is gonna offer to the student," she continued. "So, you have your standard repayment, income-based repayment plans, graduated repayment plans and income-sensitive repayment plans."

It looks like the dream of getting a college education is paved with never ending student loan payments.  And then you wake up and the payments are still waiting for you.  Too bad other dreams don't work that way.