Student loan debt among people between the ages 35 and 49 has increased very rapidly, faster than any other age group in the country. Reuters looked at over three million credit reports and found that educational debt among middle-aged Americans has increased by 47 percent.

Within the 35 to 49 age bracket, people ages 38 to 41 carried the largest amount of student loan debt. This age group had on average $12,000 in student loan debt. In 2009, the same age group averaged only $9,000 in student loan debt. Recent graduates ages 26 to 29 still have the largest amount of student loan debt, reaching an average of $14,000. However, recent graduates seem better able to cope with the load.

The higher levels of debt for middle-aged Americans is a very new trend. The CEO of a credit report company sought to explain this new trend, he said, “High unemployment, rising tuition costs, artificially low interest rates from the government and increased for profit school advertising… (adds up to) consumers taking on student loan debt at an alarming pace.” For-profit schools are more likely to rack up more student loan debt than from non-traditional students than other types of schools.

The total value of student loans across the country has reached a higher level than credit card debt. Estimates put student loan debt at $966 billion according to the financial aid website finaid.com. Some experts claim that it may be too easy to get student loans, leading people to amass high amounts of debts when looking for a career change. When considering whether to go back to school, people must ensure that the benefits of the job prospects outweigh the costs of additional education.

If you are struggling with student loan debt that you are not able to pay back, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to help. Attorneys can explain your legal rights and find options to relieve your student loan debts.

Source: Reuters, “Middle-aged borrowers piling on student debt,” Mitch Lipka, 12/27/11.

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