Student Loans Burden Older Americans, Too

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By Consumers Union on Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Think it’s only 22-year-olds who are stressed out about student loans?  Think again.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that older Americans, including senior citizens, are also bearing the burden of student loans.  Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans – and more than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.

There are multiple reasons why older Americans may have student loan debt.  Some returned to school later in life in hopes of becoming more competitive in the labor force.  Many others have co-signed for loans with their children or grandchildren to help them afford ballooning tuition.   But as the economic recovery remains week, it’s tough for younger and older Americans alike to get good-paying jobs and pull themselves out of debt.  Meanwhile, student loans are virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, and  federal loans have no statute of limitations – they can follow you to the grave.

Have questions about your rights and responsibilities when repaying student loans?  It’s important to know your options and do everything you can to stay out of default.  Check out the CFPB’s Student Debt Repayment Assistant for more information.

If you’re currently considering taking out student loans to finance your education, do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.  See our student loan tips on how to graduate with less student debt.

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