You may have heard that Americans owe trillions of dollars in student loan debt. You probably know that young people are postponing buying houses, starting families or going on to graduate school because of their loan payments. Some even return to live in their parents’ homes because the debt makes it impossible to live on their own.
If you are part of the 2.8 million older adults in the country who have incurred your own student loan debt, you may have fears for your personal future. While a few seniors take out loans for their own education, 75 percent of those loans finance college for children or grandchildren. Some co-sign for the young students, and others assume the debt outright.
The impact of student loans on older Americans
You probably had dreams of your retirement. Maybe you intended to drive across the country or take a cruise. Perhaps you just hoped to quit working and relax with a new hobby. Like many seniors with student loan debt, you have likely forfeited more than your leisure activities. Some sacrifices commonly seen among indebted seniors include:
- Skipping medical appointments
- Stopping prescription medications
- Defaulting on other loans, such as mortgages or medical debt
- Defaulting on student loans
You were probably happy to offer to sign for your loved one’s education. However, you are now looking at an uncertain future with potentially years of working past your retirement age and mounting bills of your own. A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reveals that nearly 40 percent of borrowers over the age of 65 have defaulted on their student loans.
Dealing with the schemes of debt collectors
Loan servicers often use frightening tactics to collect on the debt. Your Social Security benefits may be diverted to your student loan balance, even though the law allows you to seek out income-based payment plans to resolve the debt. If you co-signed a loan for a child or grandchild, and that person defaulted, a collection agency may have contacted you with threats of garnishing your Social Security, which the law protects from most collection efforts.
You may be feeling the physical or emotional effects of the strain associated with aggressive debt collectors. Seniors in South Carolina may find reassurance in talking with an attorney about their debts. While many believed that bankruptcy cannot address student loans, there are exceptions for which you may qualify. A lawyer will help you explore the options available to you to relieve the debt which is creating a burden in your life.