Those who are not facing outstanding student loan debt often do not really realize how difficult it is to handle or how widespread the impact is on the rest of the country. It is so bad at this point that it’s keeping students from living the lives they expected or following in their parents’ footsteps.

For many people, the American Dream means buying a home in the suburbs. They imagine sunny summer days with the children playing in the yard, a white picket fence, a dog basking on the porch and a glass of lemonade in hand.

But homeownership has become unattainable. Strapped with student loan debt that may mean they pay more for it every month than a mortgage, young people are not buying homes. Their homeownership rates keep dropping. They’re forced to rent, and they feel like the American Dream is out of reach. While some of them think that they have personally made mistakes, the truth is often just that they have so much more student loan debt than previous generations that they can’t take these steps or hit these milestones.

Is it their fault for taking out the loans? Or is the problem really that the education system is broken and school is so expensive that it’s holding people back and hurting the economy? It’s not hard to imagine that many young people do see it that way.

Where does that leave them? If you find yourself facing debt that impacts your life in this way, you are not alone. It may simply be time for you to start looking into all of your legal options.