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Seniors and Student Loans

The data in this new General Accounting Office report(.pdf) on seniors and student loans is both fascinating and disturbing, especially when viewed in relationship to the burgeoning for-profit college system (as detailed nicely by John Oliver the other day) and the dim prospects for anyone without a college degree in today’s U.S. economy.

There’s more in this WSJ story that details how a rapidly growing number of senior citizens are having their social security/disability checks garnished as a result.

About the only good news here is that at least college kids are getting better grades, as evidenced by the graphic below from this item at the Economist.

In the words of Walter White during another highly entertaining (and greatly appreciated) repeat of the Breaking Bad Binge on AMC, “So, there’s that”.

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After watching this segment on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, student loans are sounding more and more like 2005-era mortgage lending and we all know how that ended.

I started watching Last Week Tonight early on and didn’t know quite what to think of it at first, sometime not watching it for days later (it’s somewhat timely), but I’m quickly warming up to it and now get to it much sooner in the week.

Some have called it, basically, a Daily Show/Colbert Report that’s done only once a week, but as discussed by Oliver during a recent round of interviews, they always take on one topic that, on the surface, doesn’t sound like it’s going to be very funny and make it so, the above clip being a good example.

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Generation “X” = Generation “Debt”

You’ve got to study the methodology a bit and pay careful attention to the legend in the chart below from this study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve on household debt, but, after you do, you quickly realize that Generation “X” (those born between 1965 and 1980) is having an increasingly hard slog now that the best part of the U.S. credit expansion is decades behind us and about all the U.S. economy has left now is the hope for more asset bubbles that they might somehow get on the right side of.

It looks like the Baby Boomers (I’m very late in that generation) aren’t doing much better than the Gen Xers and there’s surprisingly high debt for previous generations as indicated by the open circle, open square, and open triangle symbols above. All in all, not good.

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Those Pesky Student Loan Balances

The graphic below from this story at Vox serves as a timely reminder that, while much of the rest of the U.S. credit market continues to improve after a multi-year bout of deleveraging, student loans are an ongoing problem for many Americans, both young and old.

There are more and more reports of senior citizens having trouble paying back student loans (mostly as co-signers) and, lately, of social security checks being garnished when these co-borrowers fall behind.

The other charts in the Vox story are even more interesting than the one above, particularly the last one that really doesn’t paint for-profit higher education in a positive light.

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