More borrowers are failing to make payments on their student loans five years after leaving college, painting a grim picture for borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Student debt continues to increase, especially for people who took out loans years ago. Those who left school in the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, had particular difficulty with repayment, with many defaulting, becoming seriously delinquent or not being able to reduce their balances, the New York Fed said Thursday.
Only 37 percent of borrowers are current on their federal and private student loans and are actively paying them down, and 17 percent are in default or in delinquency.
Students and their parents take out loans to pay for the ever-rising cost of college and graduate school. The increase in the total amount of debt reflects new borrowers, higher balances and slower repayment. The number of active borrowers is declining, but the aggregate outstanding balance continues to grow because fewer people are actively paying their loans.
“In spite of thinking of student loans as young persons’ debt, by 2014, two-thirds of all balances were owed by people over 30,” Andrew Haughwout, an economist and senior vice president, said at a presentation at the NY Fed.
The report shows a bleaker outlook for the status of student loans than the Education Department does. The agency publishes default rates three years after a student finishes or drops out of a program.
The most recent rate was 13.7 percent for loans originated by the government and encompassed borrowers who would have begun paying in 2011.
The New York Fed analyzes a sample of data provided by the Equifax credit bureau and looks at both federal and private loans.