1 Trillion dollar problem. Student loan debt increases 275% over the last decade! When will they be bankruptable?

It’s true!  According to an article posted online by CNN Money student loan debt has tripled in the last 10 years.  The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. is $904 billion in the first quarter of 2012 and that is up from $241 billion in 2003.  It is now the second highest form of debt behind mortgages which means that credit cards have less charged on them than these student loans.

As if this is not bad enough the debt keeps growing.  In fact it is the only type of debt that has substantially increased since 2008 according to a senior economist at the NY Fed.

And the delinquency rates on these student loans are also rising.  They are up to 8.69% from just 6.13% a decade ago.  Does this mean that over 90% of people are not delinquent?  No!   Almost 50% of these loans are currently in deferment or grace periods according to another Fed. economist.  That means that 60% of these loans are basically not being paid because the borrowers who are still in school or unemployed don’t have to pay anything yet.

So you have a whole class of debts that has reached astronomical heights and almost two-thirds of that debt is not being serviced.  It sounds like a potential disaster to me.  The median amount borrowed is $12,800 but 25% of borrowers owe more than $28,000, and 10% owe more than $54,000, and 3% owe over $100,000.  90% of the lending comes from the federal government and borrowing is way up apparently because of the economic downturn.  Students are apparently rushing to take out new debt for this coming year.  Most likely debt which they cannot pay.

My experience with these student loans is that they don’t care if you get a job in your field or if you cannot pay your rent.  They want their money when you get out and get a job and they will wait forever to get you to pay.  They tacked on over $7000 to a student loan which a client of mine took out years ago after he did not make payments on the loan.  We attempted to settle with borrowed money but they would have none of it.

They wanted their whole amount plus their interest and fees and they were not interested in any settlement.  My client made $10,000 a year on menial labor with a pregnant wife and two children and the student loan collectors did not care even that he would probably never be able to pay the debts.  Nor did they care that he never got a job in the field which he studied for.  The lady on the phone told me that “lots of people are having hard times”.

Yes, and let them eat cake!  How long can this country tolerate this intolerable student loan problem?  It’s over A trillion dollars and growing and 60% of these loans are not being paid on.  Collectors don’t care whether you can pay or not and just want the money and the economy is down so people are lining up to get more loans which they will never be able to pay.

The whole problem could be solved by making these debts dischargeable in a bankruptcy.  It is ridiculous that these loans cannot be included in bankruptcy when car loans, credit card loans, personal loans and mortgage loans can all be taken care of through a bankruptcy.  How can it be that someone who tries to improve themself by getting an education must be stuck with that debt for life when others can get rid of their debts in bankruptcy when they reach the level which they cannot pay for them?

And it is not just a problem for government backed loans.  Private student loans are also not dischargeable in bankruptcy since 2005.  This has led to an explosion in private student loan debt too that leaves many with worthless degrees and debts they cannot pay for.  I also wrote a blog about private student loan debt.

I also argued in another blog that student loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy.   If they made all student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy then the problem would go away for these students.  That is what bankruptcy is for.   It serves to help people get rid of debts which they have no hope of paying and then move on in life with a fresh start.  The whole bankruptcy process is looked over by a series of trustees and a bankruptcy judge.  They make sure that income and assets are insufficient to pay the debts and to make sure there is no fraud.  It is the perfect system to handle these debts.

How long can we kick the can down the road?  These students cannot pay these debts.  Like many of my clients they are barely surviving and they can only pay rent and food if they are lucky enough to get a job.  How can we pretend that they can pay 10s of thousands of dollars in student loan debt?  Are we to hound them to the grave?  The only solution that makes sense is to make these dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Take it from one who sees this situation every single day.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For further questions please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation or for any advice about bankruptcy or debt at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

For a free e-book on “13 things to do to prepare for your bankruptcy filing” please e-mail me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.

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