It’s no secret that student loan debt is a huge issue in the United States. College has gotten very expensive, very fast. Wages have not kept up. Many people feel they have no choice but to go to school, and it’s a choice they make when they’re 17 or 18 years old. They wind up with tens of thousands of dollars in debt that they can’t pay off after graduation. It prevents them from buying homes, starting businesses, buying cars, getting married and doing many other things that previous generations expected of them.

However, studies have shown that you should not stereotype college students into the same age group, assuming only those in their teens and 20s have to deal with this debt. It’s a big problem for those who are 50 and older, as well, with recent reports showing that their debt levels are soaring.

Nearly $300 billion

Just what does “soaring” debt mean? Well, if you go back just 15 years to 2004, you will find that those who are 50 or older had around $47 billion in student loan debt. While that sounds like a lot, it was a smaller percentage of the total.

It has massively increased. Fast forward to 2018, and these same individuals held nearly $300 billion in student loan debt. Reports put it right at $289.5 billion. While these reports came out in the middle of 2019, it will be interesting to see if they do break that $300 billion mark when analyzing the 2019 numbers at the same time a year later.

Retirement problems

Above, we touched on some of the serious issues that all of this student loan debt creates. Colleges are soaking up an incredible amount of money that could be going into the economy and helping students move forward with their lives. Instead, they often feel like they’re spinning their wheels because they’re paying off debt as colleges increase salaries, construct new buildings and pour money into sports programs.

For those in the 50-and-over crowd, the impact could be different. How are they going to retire? If they were aiming for 65, is that realistic? Will they even be able to pay off their student loans by then? If they do, are those payments going to deflate their retirement accounts and make such a move financially impossible? It’s a big concern and the next decade or two could see a financial crisis for people who do not have enough time to correct it.

Overwhelming debt

If you are facing any type of overwhelming debt, especially if it creates a serious burden and there appears to be no way out, make sure you understand all of the legal options you have.