Baby boomers and high income earners are now the most in debt when it comes to student loans (Fidelity study)
More than 44 million Americans owe approximately $ 1.67 trillion in student debt – and baby boomers are ahead of the pack compared to other generations.
Baby boomers owed 33% more debt in 2020 than in 2019, in part thanks to Parents Plus guaranteed loans for children and grandchildren, according to more than 250,000 loans surveyed by Fidelity.
“People in their 50s and 60s should prepare for retirement,” said Asha Srikantiah, head of the student debt program at Fidelity Investments. “This is the first generation to take on debt up to $ 100,000 to support one or more children through college.”
Surprised? Brooking research confirms a similar trend: Americans with higher incomes owe the most in dollars in student loans, and baby boomers hold the most assets.
Data from Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances also show that high-income households account for the bulk of monthly student debt payments, which have grown from $ 811 billion in 2010 to $ 1.6 trillion today.
The top 40% of US households (those with incomes over $ 74,000) owe nearly 60% of outstanding student debt and make nearly three-quarters of the payments.
The lowest 40% of households hold just under 20% of debt and make only 10% of payments.
Blame the big tuition bills on graduate school. In 2019, households with graduate degrees owed 56% of outstanding student debt, an increase from 49% in 2016, according to federal data.
Americans are also withdrawing more money from their retirement accounts this year, according to Fidelity.
Amid the coronavirus, the number of people who have an outstanding loan on their 401 (k) has risen sharply, from 13.9% in 2019 to 23% in 2020.
“This increase is concerning, as these loans can have a significant negative impact on 401 (k) balances, especially among young retirement savers who have a longer time horizon and greater potential in their early years to save. more, ”she said.
Principal and interest payments on student loans held by the federal government have been automatically suspended until December 31, 2020.
Will this be extended next year? Perhaps.
The CARES Act suspended principal and interest on student loans held by the federal government. It affects most U.S. borrowers: Federal student loan programs account for about 92% of student loan funds disbursed in recent years, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.
“There is a possibility that it will be extended again, as President Trump has signaled that the extension could still be reviewed in December,” said Mark Kantrowitz, chairman of Cerebly and longtime academic financial market analyst.
Debt collectors can now send us emails and texts more frequently. On Friday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized rules for debt collectors, allowing them to communicate with consumers electronically. Under Trump’s nomination, Kathy Kraninger, the CFPB eased restrictions on debt collectors.
Debt collectors applauded the CFPB rule, which proposed an appeal cap of seven calls over a seven-day period, and then once every seven days thereafter. As for electronic mail, the CFPB has not issued a specific limit.
In victory for consumers, final rule “abandons some of the more outrageous elements,” said Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America, including a free pass for collection attorneys who make false, misleading claims or misleading.
The rule allows debt collectors to:
call consumers every day of the week and several calls a day for consumers who have multiple debts.
using emails, texts and private social media messages without the consumer’s consent, which could lead to further email harassment or missed communications if sent to old email addresses.
The CFPB also allows collectors to leave voicemail messages for consumers, which could potentially be overheard by third parties, but the final rule prohibits messages on postcards, including the consumer’s name or mentions of an “account.” .
The final rule gives consumers more control in some ways, allowing them to tell a collector to “stop calling” and requiring every email message to include information on how to opt out.
Yet “the Trump administration adds insult to injury by letting debt collectors endlessly harass struggling families who choose between food and paying bills,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesperson for Allied. Progress, a pro-consumer nonprofit in Washington.
The new rules may also apply to student loans.
Although the federal government is exempt from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the collection agencies the federal government uses to collect delinquent student loans are not. “So this regulatory change will apply to federal and private student loans,” Kantrowitz said.