The Washington Post

The student debt crisis in one chart

The household credit market is slowly recovering: consumers are generally getting better at meeting their debt payments on time, becoming more willing to borrow, while banks are more willing to lend them money, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But there are some big exceptions to this trend. Americans have become seriously delinquent on an increasing percentage of their student loan debt. In fact, as USA Today notes*, outstanding student loans on track to hit a record high of more than $1 trillion this year, and “Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards,” according to the new data. [Contra USA Today , student loan debt is at $550 billion, and it’s still below credit-card debt, which is at $690 billion, according to the New York Fed figures. See update below.]

Since the peak of the crisis in 2009, they’ve become increasingly able to pay off their credit cards and mortgages. But the student loan debt crisis has continued mostly unabated.

(New York Fed)

Update: An earlier version of this post said that student loan debt has already hit $1 trillion. It’s projected to hit that figure this year.

Update 2: Felix Salmon doubts USA Today’s conclusion that there’s projected to be $1 trillion in student loan debt this year. His own conclusion from the Fed data is that there’s $550 billion in student-loan debt—nowhere close to $1 trillion and still less than the $690 billion in credit card debt. I’ve checked the figures that Salmon references, and he’s correct. But other data outside the Fed confirm the $1 trillion figure ad student loans outpacing credit cards.


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