Americans over 60 are the fastest-growing segment of student loan borrowers, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From 2005 to 2015, their average debt load doubled, from $12,100 to $23,500. Delinquencies in that group nearly doubled during that span, and the number of people seeing their Social Security benefits seized over student loans has more than quadrupled, according to a study by Experian, a consumer and credit reporting agency.
Anderson says she has seen clients come in who are well into their 40s who are still paying on their student loans because, in some cases, those student loan interest rates were so low that paying them back was not a high priority. “I do know that more companies may be looking at adding an option for helping pay off a student loan as part of their retirement plan,” she says. “But that concept is in the early stages.”
The idea is that if you have a student loan and participate in their retirement plan, they will make a contribution to paying down that student loan debt. “Everybody is getting all excited about using that retirement plan option because repaying student loans is such a burden to people,” Anderson says.
Fichtner says that because parents or grandparents are helping out kids or grandkids co-sign for their student loans, they are now on the hook for that. “We are seeing greater numbers of people 55 or older that have student loan debt on their balance sheet,” he says. “And that affects their retirement security.”