Seniors Still Owe $36B in Student Loans

For some, delinquent debt problems continue even into 80s
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2012 6:36 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2012 7:54 AM CDT
Seniors Still Owe $36B in Student Loans
Americans over 60 years old with student debt is a growing problem, say education experts.   (Shutterstock)

America's student debt woes are battering a surprising demographic: seniors. In fact, Americans 60 years of age and older still owe $36 billion in student loans—and more than 10% of those loans are delinquent, reports the Washington Post. All told, seniors account for 4.8% of $85 billion of loans that were past-due in Q3 of last year, and there are reports of people in their 80s having their Social Security checks garnished to pay off these debts, some decades old, some the result of later-in-life schooling or loans co-signed for their kids or grandkids.

"This current generation of borrowers is going to be a generation of seniors who are burdened with debt," said an attorney with Consumers Union. Last year President Obama eased repayment requirements for federal student loans, and now there is talk of allowing private loans to be erased by bankruptcy. But experts say none of these proposals addresses the core issue: the soaring costs of university education. "A student loan can be a debt that’s kind of like a ball and chain that you can drag to the grave," said the president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. "You can unhook it when they lay you in the coffin." (More student debt stories.)

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