Student loan debt is not just a burden for those in their 20s. In fact, $36.5 billion in student loans was owed by those 60 and older in 2011. What is worse is 11.2 percent of the student loan debt held by seniors is in default, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Many seniors, who are 60 and older, borrowed to finance their own college education either in their 20s, while others borrowed to further their education during the 2007 and 2009 recession. Now many are taking on additional loans to help finance their children’s or grandchildren’s education.
Most recently, the economic pinch of a higher education is affecting an unlikely demographic — the upper middle class. An analysis by The Wall Street Journal showed that households with an annual income between $94,500 and $205,000 have taken on more student loan debt than any other demographic from 2007 to 2010. Between falling home values, the stock market’s Great Recession and the rising cost of college, many were not able to save enough for their children’s education.
However, in 2011, more than 66 percent of total student loan debt — more than $580 billion — is owed by those younger than 40. The boomer generation has been shifting the cost of a higher education to their children via increased student borrowing. It is likely that trend will continue.
Before your children borrow to pay for their education, they should know what it will take to pay off the student loans. According to the loan calculators at FinAid.org, a college graduate would need to earn a salary of at least $138,000 to pay off a $100,000 student loan in 10 years. On the other hand, according to the Fed, only 3.1 percent owe $100,000 or more. In 2010, the average Georgia college graduate had a student debt of $18,888. That amount of debt would require earning an annual salary of at least $26,083.20 to be able to afford to repay the loan in 10 years.
William G. Lako Jr., CFP, is an executive in residence at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business and a principal at Henssler Financial. Lako is a certified financial planner.The MDJ will periodically publish columns from KSU business faculty.