Some 44 million Americans have student loan debt, totaling more than $1.4 trillion. That represents more than 37% of all consumer credit outstanding at the end of December and about half of outstanding non-revolving consumer debt, according to the most recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank.
Of the 44 million student loan borrowers, 47% have missed a loan repayment, and among millennial borrowers the percentage who have missed a payment rises to 58%. The percentage of defaulted loans (defined as 270 days late for borrowers in the first three years of their repayment schedules) has dropped from 14.7% in 2009 to 2010 to 11.3% in 2012 to 2013 (latest available data), according to NerdWallet. Defaulted loans include those that have been granted either deferment or forbearance status.
Now missing a payment is not the same as missing nine consecutive months worth of payments, but the number suggests how difficult it can be for some borrowers to meet their obligations. According to a new report from NerdWallet, many borrowers feel it is impossible to meet necessary living expenses and pay off their student loans.
Among the report’s key findings:
- 47% of student loan borrowers, including 58% of millennial borrowers — those ages 18-34 — have missed a payment for reasons including buying groceries and covering an emergency expense.
- 42% of student loan borrowers also have other forms of debt, and 68% say they’re focused on paying off their other debt first.
- 65% of all student loan borrowers and 60% of those whose total household income is $100,000 or more annually say they’ve made a sacrifice to make student loan payments.
- 53% of student loan borrowers say that their debt isn’t worth the education they received. That number is higher among millennial borrowers (66%) and borrowers who are parents with kids under 18 living at home (72%).
More details and comments, including suggestions on how to lower monthly student loan payments, are available at the NerdWallet website.