“Unsustainable” Student Loan Debt Harming Economy, Says New Studies
According to two reports published this week, American college graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to repay their debt as both tuition and repayment rates continue to rise, and as a result, creating a noticeably detrimental effect on the economy.
The Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO) released an analysis of 10 million credit files and found that the average student debt for graduates had inflated from $17,233 to $27,253 from 2005 to 2012, an increase of 58% in just seven years. Over the same course of time, the number of Americans with outstanding student loans more than doubled, going from 12 million in 2005 to 26 million in 2012.
Perhaps even more troubling is the issue of repayment, where the studies found that students have found it more and more difficult to pay back their loans in full and on time. For all student loans issued between 2005 and 2007, FICO found that 12.4% are 90 days past due, while Forbes found that 15.1% of loans distributed between 2010 and 2012 were 90 days past due.
Dr. Andrew Jennings, FICO’s chief analytics officer and head of FICO Labs, stated that the effects of such a trend on the economy is “simply unsustainable.”
“As more people default on their student loans, their credit ratings will drop, making it harder for them to access new credit and help grow the economy,” Jennings said. “Even people who stay current on their student loans are dealing with very large debts, which reduces the money they have available to spend elsewhere.”
Staying current has become a burdensome endeavor due to the much-touted difficulty that graduates have had finding employment that provides enough income to make repayment possible, leading to many graduates to seek extended deferment. According to TransUnion LLC, 65.5 million of all 128.8 million student loan accounts are currently in deferment. But since students can only defer payments for a limited amount of time, many students face defaulting on the loan after a short amount of time.
“[W]ith unemployment rates remaining high, particularly among recent graduates, the repayment of these loans remains a concern,” said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting at TransUnion. “Students can defer their loans for only a certain period, often up to three years. After that, these students can find themselves in a difficult position financially.”