The total outstanding education loans held by people 65 and older, including debt that financed their own schooling and their children’s, grew to $18.2 billion in 2013, the most recent year available from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), from $2.8 billion in 2005. That’s twice as fast as the overall growth in student debt. The number of borrowers age 60 and up has increased to 2.2 million, from 700,000 in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.In related news, academic researchers just discovered the obvious: that government loans created the tuition bubble.
Twenty-seven percent of education loans held by people age 65-74 were in default in 2013, meaning they hadn’t made a payment in 270 days or more. More than half of education loans held by people 75 and older were in default. And the government can garnish wages or suspend tax refunds for anyone who fails to pay their student loans, but it has an extra tool when it comes to senior citizens: taking money out of their Social Security payments. In 2013, 155,000 seniors lost part of their retirement benefit to repay education debt, up from 31,000 in 2002, according to the GAO.