There is hope! Student loans do not last forever.
Seven years after leaving college with $12,000 in student loans (at the time, average for my alma mater), I sent a final check today to pay off the last bit. Woo hoo!
I remember going to the special information session we had before graduation -- where they threaten to take your first born if you default -- and thinking I would never be done. But it is, and it was worth it.
I think this makes me a real grown up now... unless I have to borrow for graduate school.