MADISON (WKOW)--Recent college graduate Amy Klein has worked as a restaurant hostess for longer than she would have liked.
"In January, I thought I would be in a full-time position by May. And that's not the case at all," says Klein.
Believing her loans were a good investment, Klein graduated $10,000 in debt. She is not alone.
According to finaid.org, 65% of undergrads finish college with debt averaging $22,000.
Graduate and professional students borrow between $27,000 and $114,000.
While they navigate the worst job market since the Great Depression, many of these recent grads now face a tricky financial calculus; job opportunities are scarce.
When these recent graduates do secure employment, the recession will likely depress their earning power, according to one study, up to $100,000 over 20 years.
Recent grads also begin repaying the loans.
Still, financial aid experts say student loans are a good investment.
"I think if historical trends hold true even though this recession students are going to be far better off getting a college education," says Justin Draeger of NASFAA.
That's because, over the course of a 40 year career, college grads earn 61% more than those with just a high school diploma.
But recent grads have to re-adjust their goals. It may take them longer to buy a house, or start a business.
Many graduates are scaling back, extending their 'student' budgets past graduation.
"I'm much more conscious of how I spend my money,." says Klein.
And it's the case with many in the class of 2009, the recession has changed Klein's reality.
But she says, the economic downturn won't force her to give up on her dream job---yet.
On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced plans to simplify federal college aid forms in an attempt to make them much more user-friendly.
The goal is to boost college enrollment along low and middle income students.