Senior Citizens Strapped With Student Loan Debt

Monday, 02 Apr 2012 11:30 AM

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Senior citizens owe some $36 billion in student loans and more than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As a result, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished, The Washington Post reported.

Some of the loans for those over 60 are from their initial student loans, while others stem from loans taken out when they returned to school to be more competitive in the job market. Seniors also incurred student-loan debt when co-signing for loans for children or grandchildren, the Post reported.

“A student loan can be a debt that’s kind of like a ball and chain that you can drag to the grave,” William Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, told the Post. “You can unhook it when they lay you in the coffin.”

The Federal Reserve estimates that Americans owed $870 billion in student loans during the third quarter of last year and that those 60 or older accounted for 5 percent of that debt. Americans age 50 and older represent 17 percent of the debt, the Post reported.

“Many parents who thought they were headed to retirement with a college-educated child end up continuing to work because of student debt that can’t be paid,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said at a recent hearing. He has introduced a bill that would allow private student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy, the Post reported.

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