3/6/2012: From the NY Fed:
The outstanding student loan balance now stands at about $870 billion,1 surpassing the total credit card balance ($693 billion) and the total auto loan balance ($730 billion). With college enrollments increasing and the costs of attendance rising, this balance of student loan debt is expected to continue its upward trend. …
From the second to the third quarter of 2011, the total outstanding student loan balance grew 2.1 percent, from $852 billion to $870 billion. Over the same time period, other types of consumer debt declined or remained flat. … Among people under thirty years old, 40.1 percent have outstanding student loan debt . Among people between the ages of thirty and thirty-nine, 25.1 percent have outstanding student loan debt. In contrast, only 7.4 percent of people who are at least forty years old have outstanding student loan debt with some using refinance student loans to help them organize and manage their loans and repayments. If you’re finding yourself in student loan debts and you’re not managing to make ends meet with all your other bills and maybe more debts, look into a debt consolidation loan but make sure you shop around for the best offer for you so you don’t end up worse than before.
Going into debt to secure the lifelong advantages of an education is increasing popular. Too popular: many people are having trouble repaying:
… We find that 27 percent of the borrowers have past due balances, while the adjusted proportion of outstanding student loan balances that is delinquent is 21 percent—much higher than the unadjusted rates of 14.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively (see charts below).
This is particularly true of those who start college and then drop out. They get the debt, but not the earnings boost from a diploma. UO graduates have the lowest debt of all OUS schools. (Presumably richer parents explains at least some of that).
A commenter adds:
Interesting, but any such analysis that doesn’t break things down by different higher-education sectors is difficult to interpret. How much of this growth in debt is being driven by the for-profits? My guess would be a lot.