Adults Still Plagued with Student Loan Debt

By Catherine Groux
Posted July 19, 2012 11:18 AM

Many adults still carry student loans.
Many adults still carry student loans.
According to The Project on Student Debt, degree seekers who graduated from college in 2010 had an average student loan debt of $25,250. Due to this heavy financial burden, many students continue to pay back their loans well into adulthood.

More Adults Tackling Student Loans in Their 30s or 40s

New data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that since 2005, there has been a slight increase in the number of adults still carrying the burden of student loans. The report shows that about 6.2 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 39 were paying student loans in the first quarter of 2005. By the first quarter of 2012, this number increased to 10.6 million. During this time frame, the number of borrowers between the ages of 40 and 49 also increased from 3.3 million to 5.7 million.

This rise in adult borrowers can be attributed to many factors. Some of these individuals simply have long repayment terms on their federal loans, which can sometimes last for about 30 years. Others have gone back to college as adults, knowing an associate's or bachelor's degree can help them find a job in a struggling economy. Additionally, many of these adults have taken out student loans on their children's behalf or have co-signed their loans. 

More Adults Facing Student Loan Delinquency

As more adults take on student loans, a higher percentage have become 90 or more days delinquent on their payments. In the first quarter of 2012, approximately 9% of adults between the ages of 30 and 39 were delinquent on their student loans. For Americans between the ages of 40 and 49, this figure stands at 11.5%.

Still, Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, told Inside Higher Ed, that it is important to note that most borrowers who become delinquent on their loans were struggling before taking out their loans, often having long repayment terms and choosing to defer payments.

"Delinquency is the cause of the borrower still owing student loans in their 40s, not the effect," he said. "They were struggling when they graduated, perhaps due to overborrowing, and so chose longer repayment terms, and so are still struggling now. The borrowers who weren’t struggling paid off their loans in their younger years."

We recommend