Senior citizens have $36 billion in student loans

Liz Goodwin
April 2, 2012

New research from the New York Fed shows Americans 60 years and older owe a collective $36.5 billion in outstanding student loans. More than 10 percent of these indebted seniors are delinquent on their loans, which means they may field calls from persistent debt collectors and be forced to offer up parts of their Social Security checks to satisfy their decades-old debts, the Washington Post reports.

Most people with student loans are under 40, but because this type of loan cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, the debt can follow a person around for life. The average amount due from all student loan borrowers is $23,300, according to the New York Fed's data, while the median amount is $12,800. On average, college graduates make significantly more over their lifetimes than high school graduates and face a lower unemployment rate. But college costs have skyrocketed over the past 30 years, and the potential payoff of a college education varies widely, depending on which subject a person majors in and the value and reputation of the college.