Baby boomers may die with college debt
Student loan burdens are growing fastest among the over-60 crowd, many of whom sought graduate degrees during the recession.
Baby boomers are easing into retirement, but some may find their golden years are haunted by student loan debt that could follow them until they die.
It's not their children's debt, however -- it's their own. Many boomers returned to graduate school during the recession to bolster their skills, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Student loan debt is actually growing fastest among people over 60, the report notes. More than 2 million Americans over 60 owe student loan debt, with the average balance standing at about $19,500, up from just under $11,000 in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In all, that amounts to $44 billion in student loan debt carried by people who often qualify for senior discounts.
"I fully expect to die with this debt," a former meteorologist told the Chronicle. After going back to school at 58 to become a mental health counselor, he's now $70,000 in debt and unemployed at 65.
Of course, it seems like adults in every age bracket are getting crushed by student debt, which is exacerbated by a still-recovering economy. As reported previously on MSN moneyNOW, more PhDs are applying for food stamps, while 284,000 students with college degrees were working at minimum-wage jobs last year. Working at McDonald's (MCD) might be a disappointment if you're fresh out of college, but it takes on a deeper shade of depressing for seniors.
Older students have seen their debt loads mushroom not only because of rising tuition, but because they often take more time to complete a degree while juggling full-time jobs and family life.
Some are turning to the government for help. The meteorologist, for instance, slashed his monthly student loan bill in half to $250 through the government's income-based repayment program.
Another older student, 63-year-old Joan Roberts, told the publication that she's living in subsidized housing and getting by on food stamps, after enrolling in a PhD program for art education. She failed to earn the degree, but still racked up plenty of debt during her eight years of studies. She's also unemployed, and filed for bankruptcy, although the student loans stuck with her.
"I may never get relief," she said, "and I cannot plan for my future."
Delinquency rates have risen sharply among student debt holders over 60, according to the New York Fed. Almost 13% were 90 or more days delinquent at the end of 2012, double the 6% rate in 2005.
The bottom line, financial expert Mark Kantrowitz tells the publication, is that older students should avoid debt.
"They should not borrow more than they can afford to repay in 10 years or by the time they retire, whichever comes first," he said.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
I simualtaneously worked three (3) different part time jobs through college, averaging about 40-45 hours a week, which included evenings and weekends. Weekends I'd work about 10-12 hours a day. I guess it was kind of tough... but it wasn't THAT tough, you know? It was definately do-able, and left me ample time to check out the incoming freshman crop each year, LOL's. The upshot of this story, is that the day I graduated from college... while I had no more available spending money than anyone else... I DID NOT OWE A SINGLE PENNY to any loans, for the simple matter that I never BORROWED a single penny. Being a white male, I also never qualified for a grant, dang the luck. But the important thing here, is that a young individual CAN get through the university system without having to go in debt with student loans. Unfortunately, most children that age are simply not mature enough, DISIPLINED enough, to cut out the 'youthful BS' from their college years and hunker down in earnest. Oh, yes, back then an undergrad four (4) year degree actually only TOOK most of us four (4) years (mine took just over three years, constant double summer sessions, overloading classes, 18-20 credits, etc). And the reason I did so? Hey, graduating in 3.5 years, or even 3.2 years, is that much cheaper on my apartment rent, utility bill, etc, thus making college cheaper.
I do not understand all the crying about how people "had" to take those school loans... when in reality they wanted the excess money to fund their beer drinking, clubbing, etc. Work your way through school... it's not impossible. In fact, the only down side of it is that you can then NOT complain the rest of your life about owing student loans.
Of course, my whole life since, I've never been one to live on credit, or loans, either.
Cash on the 'barrelhead' DOES work.
And I recent, as a consciencious tax payer, the friggin' government erasing of those student loans. So do without whatever your fun is, whether it be that new motorcycle, of a huge flat screen TV. Pay us our money back.
And if you're young enough, not in school yet and you read this, think about it, and DO NOT 'borrow' money to get through college! Do you REALLY think it's so tough being in school classrooms (perhaps) 12 hours a week is SO HARD... that you cannot also do other things, such as WORK to make money?
Sorry to say this, as I know most did, indeed, borrow loans, but... you were silly enough to do so as kids, and that's your problem, not mine. My kid is only eleven, and he already knows how he can do it without taking loans. Yes, I pray he uses my insight... time will tell.
I knew it would be a waist to time to go back to school at my age, because I'd never get a return on my investment. Corporations just don't hire you much after 50 ... they are trying to get rid of you as I found out and with most of the high end salaries going to overseas for the cheap labor I could see that there will be no use for a college degree much anymore in the future .... unless be bring back Manufacturing (our Economic Foundation) back to this Country which the Retail, and Service Sectors are build off of to sustain City, State and Federal Jobs. One does not exist without the other. And this is also the cause of the Global Economic Decline. There is just not enough Manufacturing to go around and is causing the Financial & Economic Failures of the "World". We need to get back to the Basics.
Look around you ... do you not see one item that is not Manufactured in front of you ????
Our House would be "Empty" otherwise !!!! That's where we're headed ..... can't you all see ?
Mary Anne / 35 yrs. in Manufacturing Procurement.
When I got my student loan a year ago, to go back to school for a Masters in Psychology, I was an unemployed R.N. and pretty much the only criteria they went by was that I had repaid my Undergraduate loans. I was shocked. I'm 43 and almost halfway done with my Masters; the thing is that even if I am unable to find a job in psych, I'm a nurse and will always have a way to make a living.
PhD in Art ?
I know the pain of this. I started my education in 2001 at a Vocational School. Was told I could make the big bucks was done. Wrong! Since then I have struggled with jobs, working my way to the top. I have also incurred more loan debt trying to put myself above the rest during the bad economy all while trying to raise a family. I am going to be 42 this year and I just got a job three years ago that pays me well. Thank the Lord!! I have growing kids with growing needs and fear that I will take this debt with me to retirement. I don't want to be retired and in debt. I pray some relief will come to those that are in this similar situation..
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