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Student Loan Debt Rises on the Consumer Debt List

News media outlets such as the Washington Post, CBS News, Fox News, and MSN Money all took their cue in reporting concerns over the fact that student loan debt rose above other key consumer debts. According to a 2012 report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt has reached approximately $870 billion, surpassing credit card debt at $693 billion and total auto loan debt at $730 billion.

The breakdown of age groups that carry this student loan debt burden are:

  • Ages under 30 owe 34 percent
  • Ages 30 through 39 owe 33 percent
  • Ages 40 through 49 owe 16.4 percent
  • Ages 50 through 59 owe 11.3 percent
  • Ages 60 and older owe 4.2 percent

MSN Money reported that people over the age of 60 owe approximately $36 billion of the nation's student loan debt. CBS News quoted business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis as saying that the student loan market is about a tenth the size of the mortgage market. Student loan defaults are not likely to occur at the same rate as defaults in the housing market. Because of the debt, students are delaying marriage, children and purchasing homes. They also are living with their parents longer as a means of dealing with debts.

However, the fact that many students cannot get jobs adds to the growing problem of loan default. Many people returned to get higher degrees because jobs were tight. Now they are graduating and finding that jobs are still scarce, which puts even greater stress on paying off loan debt that grew beyond what it was before.

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