A woman looks on at the U.S. Capitol in 2013 after the most recent government shutdown. Congress has made no progress toward avoiding a government shutdown when it will run out of funding Sept. 30. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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In the years before the Great Recession, many Americans piled up too much credit card debt. Now, they seem to be a little wiser about using plastic, says Richard Cordray, who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Richard Drew/AP hide caption

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Alyson Hurt and Paige Pfleger/NPR

In 22 states, people who default on their student loans can have professional licenses suspended or revoked. The percentage of Americans who default on student loans has more than doubled since 2003. Butch Dill/AP hide caption

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Construction workers in Washington, D.C., in December. The latest jobs report will further drive the "misery index" to its lowest level in more than half a century. But economists say meager wages and big debts are still problems. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A woman wrapped in a Greek flag makes her way in to a demonstration to support the new anti-austerity government in Athens on Thursday. Louisa Goulimaki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo., is changing its name to Mosaic Life Care. It was the focus of an NPR and ProPublica investigation into its billing practices. Steve Hebert for ProPublica hide caption

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Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home. Steve Hebert for ProPublica hide caption

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A wall in Buenos Aires, Argentina, displays posters with an image of U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa and a message in Spanish — "Sovereignty or vulture scam" — in support of Argentina's government in its dispute against a U.S. hedge fund, known locally as a "vulture fund." Natacha Pisarenko/AP hide caption

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Noelle Johnson has a lengthy commute via bus and train to her job near Washington, D.C. She's been working toward her B.A. for nine years, and when she finally finishes, she says, she'll be able to afford to live closer to work. James Clark/NPR hide caption

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After two kids and her husband's bouts with cancer, Claire Shrout's family was wracked with debt. Instead of declaring bankruptcy, they worked themselves out of it and hope to be relatively debt free by spring. Courtesy of Claire Shrout hide caption

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