September 25, 2013

Student Debt Still Burdens 1 in 6 Adults

For people age 55 and older, 1 in 5 who took out loans still owe money, a FindLaw.com poll found

One in six American adults are still paying off student loans, according to a just-released survey by FindLaw.com.

The survey of 1,000 American adults who are not currently enrolled in school found 31% took out student loans. More than half (53%) of them are still paying off those loans, including two-thirds between the ages of 24 and 44. While the percentages drop as people get older, one in five people age 55 and older (21%) who took out student loans still owe money.

Most of these adults owe less than $25,000, with only 7% of them having outstanding balances of $50,000 or more. Seventeen percent of those polled said they still owe money on student loans taken out to help with their post-secondary education.

Only 47% of those who took out student loans say they have completely paid off their loans, with some of them having the loans discharged either through personal bankruptcy or fulfilling government student loan forgiveness programs for certain public service workers, teachers serving low-income areas or members of the armed forces.

Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor with FindLaw.com, said in a statement announcing the finding that “as the cost of a college education has risen, so has the number of graduates carrying a substantial amount of student loan debt.” Ideally, she says, “students use their degrees to land well-paying jobs and quickly pay off their loans. But job markets are cyclical and careers don’t always go according to plan. Student loans can be a big financial burden, but there are various options available to those who are unable to repay their loans.”

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