Students and workers seeking retraining are borrowing extraordinary amounts of money through federal loan programs, potentially putting a huge burden on the backs of young people trying to kick start careers.
The government-issued loan program's costs to taxpayers, including provisions for interest relief for unemployed graduates and a default rate of more than one dollar in eight, is somewhere near the $20 billion mark, according to various estimates.
Clearly, graduating in the weak job markets of 2012 is going to be challenging for a student carrying, say, $40,000 in debt.
Is there a better way? Well, things are certainly different in Australia, for instance.