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The total student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached $1.6 trillion, according to a quarterly report recently released by the Federal Reserve.

As of January, National debt from student loans exceeds that from auto loan debt by over $300 billion.

The average student loan debt per borrower in the U.S. is just over $29,000, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Steve Black, Ph.D. and Chair of Finance at the University of Central Oklahoma said students and their families should focus on financial planning, first asking themselves how much they might earn upon graduation.

“If you go in for a car loan, you have to know what your budget is,” Black said. “Students are borrowing without a clear expectation of potential earnings.”

Sally Mae reports that 8 out of 10 families use scholarships and grants. Over half of families take out loans to cover the cost of school. These findings show that family savings and income alone are not enough for most families.

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