A growing number of Americans aged 50 and older are carrying a burden of student loan debt -- which is growing faster for seniors than for any other age group, according to data gathered by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Consumers aged 50 and older hold only 17 percent of all U.S. student debt, but that is nearly three times as much debt as in 2005.
The data do not differentiate between consumers who took out loans for their own education and those who did so for children or grandchildren. Owing on government-backed loans can be especially tough, as collectors of federal student loan debt can garnish income, block benefits, and withhold tax rebates. Some older borrowers are seeing part of their Social Security payments seized and their wages cut off as a result. Many seniors are stuck with paying for an education they were unable to complete, or that did not lead to stable employment.