According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of older Americans in the United States who are carrying student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade — and the amount they owe has doubled. These aren’t onetime hippies still paying off social science degrees; they are baby boomers covering education expenses for their children and grandchildren — often at the expense of their own retirements, and on top of mortgage, credit card and auto loan debt. This has resulted in a higher rate of default than that of other age groups.

Number of consumers

age 60 and older with

student loan debt

3.0

2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

2005

2015

Average amount of student

loan debt for borrowers

age 60 and older

$25

$20

2015

$15

2005

$10

$5

$0

Beneficiaries of student loan

debt owed by consumers,

by age group (2014)

SELF/

CHILD/

SELF/

SPOUSE+

GRANDCHILD

SPOUSE

CHILD

ONLY

ONLY

100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

30-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Median retirement savings

balance by consumers with

and without student loans,

age 50 to 59 (2013)

WITHOUT

WITH

STUDENT

STUDENT

LOANS

LOANS

$70

$60

$50

$40

$30

$20

$10

$0

401(K) OR SIMILAR

IRA OR SIMILAR

Share of federal student

loan borrowers in default,

by age group (2015)

37%

29%

17%

UNDER 50

50-64

65+

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of older Americans in the United States who are carrying student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade — and the amount they owe has doubled. These aren’t onetime hippies still paying off social science degrees; they are baby boomers covering education expenses for their children and grandchildren — often at the expense of their own retirements, and on top of mortgage, credit card and auto loan debt. This has resulted in a higher rate of default than that of other age groups.

3.0

2.5

Number of consumers age 60 and older

2.0

with student loan debt (2005-2015)

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Average amount of student loan debt for

Beneficiaries of student loan debt owed

borrowers age 60 and older (2005-2015)

by consumers, by age group (2014)

$25

100%

90%

$20

80%

SELF/

70%

SPOUSE+

CHILD

$15

60%

50%

CHILD/

GRANDCHILD

ONLY

$10

40%

30%

SELF/

SPOUSE

$5

20%

ONLY

10%

$0

0%

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

30-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Median retirement savings balance by consumers

Share of federal student loan borrowers

with and without student loans, age 50 to 59 (2013)

in default, by age group (2015)

$70

37%

$60

29%

$50

WITHOUT

STUDENT

$40

LOANS

17%

$30

WITH

STUDENT

$20

LOANS

$10

$0

401(K) OR SIMILAR

IRA OR SIMILAR

UNDER 50

50-64

65+

SOURCE: Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's Snapshot of Older Consumers and Student Loan Debt.