Americans are struggling to make timely payments on student loans, according to new data from researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — even as we dutifully shrink other types of balances.
Student-loan delinquencies increased at the end of 2014: 11.3 percent were at least 90 days overdue in the last three months of 2014, up from 11.1 percent in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, on the bright, if counterintuitive, side: All other forms of debt have been showing lower delinquency rates, including credit card and mortgage loans. The New York Fed did note, however, that auto loan delinquencies have largely been dropping, but rose slightly last quarter.
America’s total student loan debt is now nearly $1.2 trillion. One reason the burden is difficult to pay off, Fed researchers wrote: “Student debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy like other types of debt … Delinquent or defaulted student loans can stagnate on borrowers’ credit reports.”
It wasn’t always like this. Student loans were the smallest form of household debt until 2009, the Fed data shows.
The recession apparently scrambled our borrowing habits. Americans shrank other debts during the economic downturn but kept taking money for college, long trumpeted as the ticket out of hard times.
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