The $1.6 trillion in U.S. student debt may not pose a direct threat to the economy, but it’s causing anguish that goes far beyond financial concerns for the people who owe it.
One in 15 borrowers has considered suicide because of their school loans, according to a survey of 829 people conducted last month by Student Loan Planner, a debt advisory group.
Most student debt is held by people with balances on the lower end of the scale, with only 0.8 percent of the U.S. population owing more than $100,000, according to Deutsche Bank economists. They have labeled the issue as a “micro problem” for individuals, rather than a macro problem for the economy.
Yet that still equates to 2.8 million people with about $495 billion in debt as of March, according to Education Department data. Even more worrying is that it’s an increase of almost $61 billion since the end of 2017.
Student loans are the second-biggest kind of debt in the United States behind home mortgages and often are more expensive to service relative to the amount owed because interest rates are generally higher. Unlike buying a home, an education isn’t a tangible asset that can be sold.