Come graduation time next month, there will be many grandparents - many with student loans themselves - sitting at the ceremonies for their grandchildren, who will leave college with their own education loans. Some in both groups will take those loans to their graves.
The balance of student loans outstanding in the United States has been growing for years. Until the Great Recession, people thought the level of debt being carried by borrowers was manageable. They thought the good jobs would come, making the debt a good investment. This sentiment is changing in the face of the reality that the loans are a hardship for many, especially seniors who either took out loans for themselves or borrowed and or cosigned for their children or grandchildren.
Using data from Equifax credit reports, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found that people 50 and over are carrying nearly $135 million in student loan debt.
The total outstanding student loan balance now stands at about $870 billion, surpassing the total balances due on credit cards ($693 billion) and auto loans ($730 billion).