2.8 Million Seniors Carry Student Loan Debt. Theirs and Yours.

My grandma is the most generous person I know. Thanks to her support, I paid for college and graduated not a penny in debt. And she’s not the only one! More and more grandparents (the kindest-hearted people on the planet) are footing the college bill for the grandkiddos.

Unfortunately, not all of them can afford it.

A new report shows that the number of Americans age 60 and older carrying student loan debt has quadrupled over the past decade, from 700,000 in 2005 to 2.8 million in 2015. Those 2.8 million seniors carry a total of $66.7B and are now the fastest-growing group of student loan borrowers. And yes, while a portion of the debt is for their own education, more than two-thirds of the debt is taken on for the sake of children and grandchildren.

Relying on Social Security is hardly a good option. As a report by the Government Accountability Office found, older borrowers (age 50 and up) who default on federal student loans and who pay with a portion of their Social Security have often held these loans for decades, and have consequently had about 15% of their benefit payment withheld.

And here I was, thinking it was only my generation in trouble!

The monster problem of student loan debt isn’t new to many Americans, but the fact that it’s haunting Gramps and Nana too—and they don’t have as much time left as we do to pay it off—should really motivate colleges to figure out a solution. Rising tuition prices are one problem. College has always been expensive, but did you know the average tuition has doubled over the past thirty years, from $10,210 (adjusted for inflation) to $21,728?

That’s a stickier problem than we can fix in a single blog post. Fortunately, there’s another problem we CAN tackle.

It’s the problem of students taking on unmanageable debt because they didn’t count the cost upfront. Or they wasted several years switching majors (racking up debt year after year) before settling on something they liked. Or they attended a lavish university without knowing they could obtain the equivalent education and training at a local community college. Or they chose a major and career path they end up disliking—so after several years of self-hatred in an office, they go back to college for the degree they really wanted.

We created Find Your Calling to solve all these problems. While it may come too late for the older generation’s personal debts, Find Your Calling can help younger students figure out what they want to do before signing the tuition check (whoever signs it!). Discover careers you love. Find the right programs at the right schools. Don’t pay more than you have to, and don’t waste time achieving the career of your dreams.

That’s what Grandma would really want.

Win scholarships for college during Find Your Calling Month. Follow FYC on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Sign up here for our monthly newsletter. Contact me at gwen@findyourcalling.com. Let me know how I can help you!

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