Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CHE: More Baby Boomers Struggling to Repay Student Loan Debt

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, baby boomers (age 60 and older) who returned to graduate school to increase their marketability are increasingly struggling to repay their student loan debt.

Student-loan debt is not just a problem for young, recent college graduates searching for their first jobs. Growing numbers of adults nearing the ends of their careers are accumulating such big debt, too, and they don't have a lifetime to pay it back.

In fact, student-loan debt is growing fastest among adults ages 60 and older, with more than two million people in that age group now owing an average of $19,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Their default rates are rising, too, and increasing numbers of retirees are seeing their Social Security checks garnished because they fell behind on student-loan payments.

Many of these older borrowers thought they could increase their marketability by earning an advanced degree later in life but are struggling to make ends meet instead. The number of people over age 50 enrolling in graduate schools more than doubled over the two decades between 1987 and 2007, when more than 182,000 enrolled, according to data from a survey published every 10 years by the U.S. Department of Education. The total amount of outstanding student-loan debt among this age group reached $155-billion in 2012.

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