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A survey recently conducted by American Student Assistance found that those with student debt are delaying decisions to buy a home, get married, have children, save for retirement, and enter a desired career field because of their debt.
Unfortunately, all we really track is the number of loans that have died. We could be much more successful in returning federal assets in student lending if we did more to make sure problems didn’t occur in the first place and held people accountable for metrics that help, rather than add to, the distress of borrowers.
As the way we finance higher education has changed over the generations, so too have the demographics of those impacted by student debt. With a rapidly increasing population of older, “non-traditional” students enrolling in college every day, not only is the image of new college graduates inaccurate, but so is the image of those struggling with student debt.
Our nation’s student loan system is approaching a tipping point from a social, economic, and public policy perspective. Rising college costs, a sluggish job market that has driven a record number of Americans to seek out higher education, and a constraint on federal and state budget dollars afforded to grants, have all combined to produce an explosion in student loan borrowing.