Debt problems grow worse for college students

Maria Gomez, 26, left, graduates from UCLA with her master's degree in architecture.
(Christina House / For The Times)

Families aren’t saving enough for college, students are falling deeper into debt and nearly 13% of graduates owe more than $50,000, according to new research.

The bottom line of the research, gleaned from a pair of new studies, is that college-debt woes continue to worsen despite all the attention focused on the ballooning debt of America’s young people.

An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that the number of students taking out college loans, and the amount they borrowed, both grew 70%, or roughly 7% a year, from 2004 and 2012.


About 17% of graduates have fallen behind on their loans by more than 90 days, compared with fewer than 10% in 2004, according to the report.

Altogether, outstanding loan balances total nearly $1 trillion.

And being saddled with student debt appears on its way to becoming a new American rite of passage.

Among 25-year-olds, more than 4 in 10 are weighed down with loans, up from a little more than 25% in 2004, the report said.

Another report, by student-loan company Sallie Mae, showed that half of families with children aren’t saving for college. That’s a drop-off from 2010, when 60% were squirreling away savings.

And families who do put away money aren’t even meeting their own savings goals.

The average family plans to save nearly $40,000 by the time a child packs up for college, but is on track to save only about half that amount, according to the study.


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