This story by the Wall Street Journal about a recent Harvard grad erasing his student loan debt in a mere seven months really misses the point about the real problem of crushing student loan debt.

As the reporter so blithely points out, it “helps to have a low-six-figure salary.”

Yup, folks, you read that right. The Harvard grad in question, Joe Mihalic, who is being hailed as some kind of student-loan-erasing superhero, is not only gainfully employed, but is making at least $100,000 a year.

Joe has no children. No spouse or significant other. And he has roommates to help pay to keep a roof over his head.

Good for Joe. Nothing against him. But unfortunately, his situation is just not reality for far too many of the 35 million Americans who are saddled with student-loan debt. Millions of hard-working professionals in this country don’t make anywhere near $100,000 a year and are unlikely to do so during the duration of their working lifetimes.

Outstanding student loans total close to $1 trillion — that’s trillion with a T. In a story I wrote for back in August, college students voiced legitimate concerns about whether they would be able to pay back their loans and in a timely manner.

So forget the hype. A college degree, or other studies or training after high school, is no longer a luxury. Like getting a high school diploma, a college degree or other certificate is a necessity if one is to have a chance of either being able to successfully run one’s own business or work for someone else’s. With that being the case, we as a nation should look to spending our collective tax dollars to better subsidize the cost of college or other post-high-school training.

The proposed Student Loan Forgiveness Act is a start, but people long out of college, in their 30s and 40s, also need a way to unload student-loan debt.┬áThat’s the kind of bailout this country really needs; a bailout that would help the people who are the consumers corporate players like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s depend on. It’s assistance that would directly help the working- and lower-middle-income folks — the auto mechanics, roofers, plumbers, teachers, social workers, nurse’s aides, office administrators, retail salespeople — who really make this nation run.