Tags: retirement | saving | student loan | education | debt

Don't Let Your Retirement Go Bust Over Your Kids' Student-Loan Debt

Don't Let Your Retirement Go Bust Over Your Kids' Student-Loan Debt
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By    |   Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:56 AM

You would think that student-loan debt largely would be the younger generation’s problem. But more and more, with graduates unable to handle college costs on their own, mountains of student loans are becoming mom and dad’s albatross, as well.

Many baby boomers are now faced with helping pay off their kids’ college loans, and that added burden can threaten their retirement. About 2.8 million people 60 and older have outstanding student loans – quadruple the number in 2005, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Most of the current student-loan debt of people 60-plus was incurred paying for college for a child or grandchild, and in the past decade, for the 60 to 64 age group, student-loan debt has increased eight-fold – to $38 billion!

Americans in their 60s are now the fastest-growing age group facing student-loan debt. It is a serious problem for many who are in retirement or approaching it. But there are ways to manage the debt, and for those still in the planning stages, there are key points to consider so college debt doesn’t compromise your retirement.

Here are four steps baby-boomer parents should take if they are dealing with – or considering taking on – their kids’ student-loan debt:

  • Attack the debt. Taking on a higher monthly payment may be worthwhile in the long run. Let’s imagine someone has a $35,000 student loan with 7 percent interest. They may be tempted to take a 30-year payment plan instead of a 10-year plan, because it’s going to lower the monthly payment by $170. But at what cost? Paying over 30 years is going to cost thousands more in interest.
  • Be careful about co-signing. Over half of co-signers on outstanding student loans are 55 and over. With students struggling to make payments, parents or grandparents are on the hook if they co-signed – a bigger problem if they’re near or in retirement with a fixed income. Many people who co-sign don’t realize they’re responsible for the debt if their children don’t pay. It’s OK for you not to co-sign. It sounds harsh, but the kids need to know this can impact your retirement as well as your credit. One easy guideline is: For your children’s college, don’t borrow more than half your annual income.
  • Do not default. Lapsing in payments can lead to garnishment of Social Security checks. In 2015, more than 12 percent of 60-and-over borrowers were in default. Income-driven repayment plans can be an option to reduce monthly payments. If you miss a payment, aim to resume payments or renegotiate the terms of the loan as soon as you can.
  • Make retirement a priority. Whether you choose to help your kids or not, your retirement needs to be a priority. A good rule is putting 10-15 percent a year into your 401 (k) or retirement plans. Earmark it for your future, and it should not be touched early for you or for your kids.

This isn’t a problem you can hide away in a drawer. And before it becomes a problem, baby boomers must carefully balance the decision to help their children along with providing for their own retirement needs.

About Andrew Anable

Andrew Anable (www.safeguardinvestment.com) is a financial planner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group in Santa Barbara, California. He has been helping families with their estate, financial and retirement needs for more than 20 years. His areas of knowledge include tax planning, long-term care planning, asset protection, legacy planning, and insurance and investment strategies. He holds professional licenses in California, Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas.

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You would think that student-loan debt largely would be the younger generation's problem. But more and more, with graduates unable to handle college costs on their own, mountains of student loans are becoming mom and dad's albatross, as well.Many baby boomers are now faced...
retirement, saving, student loan, education, debt
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2018-56-10
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:56 AM
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