A new report in the Wall Street Journal details how delinquency on student loan debt is actually highest among the middle-aged, defined roughly as adults between 40 and 60. Delinquencies for those in their 40s stands at an alarming 11.9 percent. Meanwhile, over the past seven years debt rates for those in their 50s and 60s have doubled and tripled, respectively:
Many debtors over 40 are still paying balances from college years ago, while their home values and savings have declined sharply in recent years. Some have stopped payments after losing jobs. Many parents—no longer able to tap home equity to pay for their children’s education—are taking out new student loans to do so. An Education Department program that provides loans to parents to fund their kids’ education is among the fastest-growing of the government’s education loan programs.
Sadly, government’s fingerprints are all over this mess. In a well-intentioned effort to make higher education more widely accessible, the government offered large student loans without asking many questions. Two things happened.