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America’s Student Loan Crisis: Generation I.O.U.

Graduation season is here!

But instead of planning for a year abroad or embarking on exciting new careers, many new grads are instead paralyzed with fear over a weak job market and crushing debts.

“I am a slave to my student loans and I cannot take it," says Flickr user Rhiannon. She's a 27-year-old graduate of Arizona State University.

Related: Generation I.O.U. Slideshow

In 2011 two-thirds of college seniors graduated with roughly $27,000 in student loan debt. More than 38 million Americans owe more than a combined $1 trillion in outstanding student loans.

If you are a parent or a student, you know that college education costs have skyrocketed in recent years. What you may not know is that the annual cost of a four-year degree has risen three times as fast as the rate of inflation since the 1970s.

Why the U.S. higher education system is broken

What makes this crisis worse is the fact that finding a job after college graduation has becoming increasingly difficult in this tough economy.

Student loan debt is crippling a generation and making it difficult to achieve the American Dream.

“I will never be able to own a home," says Susanna via the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

We're dubbing it "Generation I.O.U."

Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! News have teamed up to host this LIVE-streamed summit event on the rising costs of college. The special event will include perspectives from students, parents, education and financial experts to help find prescriptions for what is ailing a generation burdened by student loan debt.

This is an interactive summit powered by Yahoo's multi-platform media network. Our discussion is driven by questions submitted by you. We heard you on Flickr, gathered submissions on Yahoo! Answers and read through your stories on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

Please join the conversation by tweeting us at #GenIOU.

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