Ellen Mathis graduated from East Carolina University in 2010 with more than $40,000 in debt.
She said, like many of her classmates, she just wanted any job she could get and took on a part-time gig at a local news station to make ends meet.
But it wasn't enough money to cover the basics.
"When you sit there and write that check and you have 25 years to pay it off, it's a little daunting," said Mathis.
Money, or the lack thereof, is consuming every aspect of life for many recent graduates.
"You can buy a house with all the interest you pay on these loans," said Mathis.
She said she'll be 45 before all her debts are paid.
Jon Dewar, is the President of LLG Financial and said that one of the harsh realities of the increasing student loan debt, is how many people are defaulting.
"One out of eight is in default," said Dewar. "A lot of folks are not able to pay it back."
Dewar said graduates are relying so much on their family's support, that parents are now beginning to delay their retirement.
As for the other consequences?
"There's a trillion dollars in college debt out there and it's delaying families, it's delaying businesses or buying of homes, so it's definitely a real issue that we're facing."
For the latest figures on student loan debt in North Carolina and across the county go to http://projectonstudentdebt.org