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NEW YORK — The rising cost of a college education — and more importantly, the hefty loans that often follow — was a pre-pandemic problem that’s only been exacerbated over the last several months.

Roughly 45 million Americans currently hold $1.6 trillion on student debt — about 95% of it is held by the federal government.

It’s a major financial burden, especially in a time when unemployment has skyrocketed and the economy suffers through a pandemic-induced recession.

Student debt averages to be about $25,000 to $30,000 per individual, with payments between $200 and $300 a month.

Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the government to forgive up to $50,000 per borrower. The Biden campaign had also suggested student debt forgiveness up to $10,000.

Corey Crockett contributed.