Student Loans Are More than Just a 20-Something Issue

The following is a guest post from Aniya Wells:
The “student loan crisis” has been storming the headlines. With recent graduates breaking records for having the largest amount of student loan debt to their names, there’s good cause for all the interest in the story. That being said, for most of us when we hear the phrase “student loan debt” we think of 20-something college students in their first professional jobs and frenzied graduate students working to pay off their thousands of dollars in debt.åÊ
I’m going to go out on the limb and say that people in their 60s and 70s struggling to pay off student debt is likely not the image that comes to mind‰ÛÓmaybe it should be.
Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans of retirement age, 60 and older, still own billions in student loans. This statistic opens up an interesting dynamic between the relationship of student debt and social security‰ÛÓa dynamic most of us would have thought never occurred. While, of course, the younger generation is still taking the brunt of the beating when it comes to student loan debt and payments, senior citizens in today’s society are facing serious struggles with it as well.
This research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that:
  • Americans 60 and older account for five percent of delinquent student loans.
  • More than a few cases have cropped up where senior citizens in their 80s are being harassed by borrowers over student loan debt that is decades old. Many of these cases involve debt that was incurred when adults went back to school at a later point in their lives and other cases were because loans were co-signed on by parents for their children.

While this phenomenon is interesting and noteworthy in and of itself, it raises bigger questions and concerns. The mere fact that student loan debt continues to plague senior citizens demonstrates the severity of the issue.

The issue is a grand and worrisome one. The long time commodity of a college degree is no longer without its risk. Where at one time a college education was solely considered a strong investment for any individual, today is now saddled with the potential for unbridled debt and no promise of a high-paying career. The focus as of late, has been put on 20-somethings struggling to land satisfying careers in an injured job market and unable to pay of exorbitant college debt.åÊ
That focus can (and should) now be stretched with a simultaneous focus on aging first-time grandparents forced out of retirement to try to pay off their seemingly-unending debt for the college degree they earned decades prior. At the very least, this broadened view can broaden our interest in the topic and encourage our lawmakers and politicians to more properly address the constantly growing issue.
A freelance blogger and writer for blog, Aniya is passionate about giving potential students advice as they embark on an online or traditional degree program. Please direct questions or comments to