U.S. student loan debt nearing $1 Trillion

By Matt Porter

May 16, 2013 Updated May 17, 2013 at 12:19 AM EST

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Music always came easy to Santino DeAngelo from Endicott.

But financing his college education has not played out as smoothly as the music he writes for the stage.

"I looked at several schools that I just didn't apply to because I knew there was no way I was going be able to afford it," DeAngelo said.

He chose Binghamton University partly because of its affordable price.

Student loan debt across the country is approaching $1 trillion according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In New York, the average debt is $25,851 per student. Three out of five New York students will graduate with some student debt according to The Project on Student Debt.

With $60,000 in student loans, DeAngelo said he's had trouble achieving financial harmony.

"You're expected to be an adult," he said, "But you financially are not able to become an adult."

The 2013 graduate will start his first job next week writing for a musical take on William Shakespeare's comedies in West Palm Beach, Fla.

If it's successful, it could travel to Seattle, Chicago, and hopefully New York.

But if not, the musical phenom could be left looking for work with debt weighing him down.

DeAngelo says that kind of crisis is bearing on many of his friends already, and he says the government needs to act.

"Do they want us to be educated," DeAngelo said, "Or do they want us to be slaves to the banks that have gotten us into this mess in the first place?"

Binghamton University's Associate Director for Financial Aid and Student Records Patricia Donahue said for a long time students didn't think about costs early on.

"It really becomes more of an immediate issue once they graduate," Donahue said, "And they realize, 'Oh my God, I have to pay these loans back now.'"

But in recent years, the office has worked to help students understand costs versus value from the time they apply.

Donahue said students are beginning to look ahead when they sign financial documents.

"It's how much do I actually need versus what I want," she said, "And how can I be successful in paying it back once I graduate."

BU said it saw a record number of applications this past year, more than 30,000 applied.

Donahue said it's likely people are turning to BU because it is more competitive financially with private institutions.

Less than half -- 45 percent -- of students at BU will graduate with no student debt.

But for DeAngelo, who will have federal and private loans to pay, he will take life note by note hoping to avoid falling flat.

"There will be a very delicate balance," he said, "Between my career and being able to pay the bills."