Student loan debt is no longer just a “young person problem,” according to Craig Copeland, senior research associate for the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The share of families with student loan debt has grown tremendously. It’s more than doubled from 10.5% in 1992 to 22.3% in 2016.
While families headed by people younger than 35 were still more likely to have student loan debt, families with older heads, ages 45 to 64, have became a larger share of those with this debt, according to Copeland.
Nearly 45% of young families had student loan debt in 2016. This is up from 24.4% in 1992.
Meanwhile, more than a third of families headed by 35- to 44-year-olds had student loan debt in 2016, up from the nearly 12% that had student debt in the same age range in 1992.
For those family heads age 45 to 54, nearly 24% are “still shouldering” student loan debt, according to Copeland. Whereas, in 1992, nearly 6% of these families had student debt.
“It’s starting to hit more and more people as you go up the age range,” Copeland said.
In a recent webinar presented by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Copeland examined data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, a comprehensive government survey on American families’ total wealth, including detailed data on all asset and debt types.
In addition to more people with student debt, the average amount owed has also gone up.
The median amount that’s owed rose from $5,363 in 1992 to $19,000 in 2016, Copeland showed.
The median required monthly payment in 2016 was $200, representing about 3% of the median family income. However, these payments reached more than 10% of family income at the 90th percentile.
“This is a required payment, so this is going to take the loan to the full extent of what the repayment period is,” Copeland added.