Rosemary Anderson, 57, is on the hook for $152,000 in student loans she took out 20 years ago. The divorced mother of two grown daughters represents a growing number of older Americans with student debt.
The 50-and-over crowd makes up 17% of $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt — a 30% increase since 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Anderson’s loans financed her own education. However, one of the main reasons for the big increase is because more parents have taken out loans to finance their children’s college education.
“We’re seeing a rise in the number of people with two generations of debt: People who are paying for their children’s education, but also paying off their old student loans,” said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which researches the rising costs of higher education.
Older workers, who have lost jobs, have found it difficult to get re-hired, leading them to fall behind on repaying their loans. And their kids, who may have shouldered the burden of repaying their loans, also haven’t been able to find well-paying jobs.
Anderson, who lives in Watsonville, Ca. fears for her future, when there’s the likelihood of her social security payments being garnished. Her fears aren’t unfounded. American Student Assistance, a nonprofit that counsels people with student debt problems, said that over the past year it has worked with 1,000 Americans who have had their social security payments garnished to pay for old student debt. That’s a sharp increase from just 200 people in the previous year.
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