by Pete Mazzaccaro
Rising student loan levels are a problem. More than 58 percent of all college graduates say they have student loans. Total U.S. student loan debt is approaching 1.5 trillion – more than double the $670 million Americans owe in credit card debt. And 57 percent of Americans believe that debt held by these college borrowers is a major problem, according to a recent study by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Another recent poll of millennials found that 70 percent of young people believe student debt poses a more significant threat to the United States than North Korea.
What most people don’t realize, however, is the burden student loan debt poses to older citizens. Citing a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker introduced a resolution last week to study the impact of student loans on people older than 60.
“We know that rising student loan debt is a national problem for borrowers of all ages, but research shows that many older borrowers are already facing other types of debt, which is compounded by student loan debt,” Parker said. “Furthermore, the majority of these student loans are because more and more parents and grandparents are now taking out loans to finance their children’s and grandchildren’s education.”
Those numbers show that 2.8 million Americans age 60 and older owe an average of $23,000. Older Americans hold more that $66 billion of the 1.5 trillion and 73 percent said that debt was taken out for a child or grandchild.
“This debt poses a significant threat to the retirement security of our seniors, and consequently, the stability of our neighborhoods. While there are programs that offer help to younger borrowers, many of them do not apply to older borrowers, so the goal of our hearing will be to come up with a set of solutions that will assist this age group.”
Parker hopes to hold hearings on the matter in City Council soon.