Trillion — it’s a startling number to throw around in conversations about the future of higher education, but it’s a difficult number to grasp. After all, the country’s richest man, Bill Gates, is estimated to be worth only $56 billion.

Student loan debt is a fact of life for many college graduates (and those who dropped out before getting a degree). Two-thirds of those who graduated from four-year schools in 2007-8 did so with debt, according to The average amount: $23,186.

Are your federal or private student loans a part of the $1 trillion? How much do you owe?

When asked readers to share their stories on Twitter and Facebook, one woman from Wisconsin told me: “I've determined two things -- I will be paying off my student loan with my social security and I probably will not live long enough to pay off the whole loan (though I do make monthly payments).”

And here’s what people are saying on Twitter: