Americans are drowning in student debt, with more than 44 million of us owing an estimated $1.67 trillion. But an unlikely group has more student debt than any other: baby boomers.
That surprising finding is part of Fidelity Investments’ 2020 Student Debt Snapshot, which analyzed data from more than 250,000 loans reported using Fidelity’s Student Debt Tool.
Baby boomers have an average monthly student loan payment of $722. That compares with $623 for members of Generation X and $558 for millennials.
Meanwhile, boomers have an average student loan balance of $75,000, compared with $69,000 for Generation Xers and $52,000 for millennials.
While it may seem strange that a group so far removed from their college years carries so much debt, Fidelity notes that it’s partially because of parent PLUS loans they secured for their children. These are a type of federal loan for parents of undergraduate students to help pay for college or career school.
Co-signing loans is something Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has been cautioning consumers about for years. As we explain in “What’s Your Debt IQ? Take This Quiz to Find Out“:
“Co-signing on a loan is the same as taking out the loan yourself. If your son — or whomever you were trying to help — stops paying, it can do a real number on your credit score. Even worse, a creditor can come after you for payment, and you could find yourself on the receiving end of collection calls or, worse, a garnishment order.”
If you are going to co-sign anyway, at least be smart about it. Stacy details this process in “If I Co-Sign a Loan, Can I Protect Myself?”
How to erase student loan debt
Clearly, student loan debt is a major problem facing Americans of all ages. And those obligations come with a very high financial and emotional cost. As Asha Srikantiah, head of Fidelity Investments’ student debt program, notes:
“Fidelity’s research shows when it comes to financial wellness, taking on debt is one of the most negative events. Conversely, paying off debt is one of the most positive — financially, as well as with health, work and life overall.”
If student debt is overwhelming you, take a look at our story “Student Debt Soars: 5 Ways to Pay Off Your Loans Faster.”
Or, if you feel you need outside help, stop by Money Talks News’ Solutions Center to find expert help with student debt. The right expert can help lower your interest rates, find forgiveness programs and stop wage garnishment and tax liens.