NORTH CAROLINA -- More than 1 million North Carolinians owe nearly $40 billion in federal student loans.
- Student loan debt across the nation has topped $1.5 trillion
- The average 4-year student in North Carolina graduates $26,526 in debt
- Experts say it doesn't completely prevent borrowers from buying a home
Nationally, student loan debt has topped $1.5 trillion, according to Bloomberg, which says roughly 1 in 10 borrowers are delinquent on their payment.
With nearly 60 percent of North Carolina graduates leaving school with debt, it's forcing many to put off large purchases which can hurt the economy. The Department of Education says more than 300,000 borrowers in North Carolina owe at least $40,000.
"It doesn't completely prevent borrowers from buying a home, but a lot of times it's going to come later in life as they're trying to reduce their overall debt as they go apply for a mortgage or just save for that down payment," Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House said.
Ashley Salazar is four years away from her degree. She says on top of her classes, she's worried about the thousands of dollars she's accruing in debt.
"For me to be a freshman and already have so much on my plate it's just stressful," the Queens University student said.
The average 4-year student in North Carolina graduates $26,526 in debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.