Student loan default rates are reaching epic proportions. This means a huge number of young people will feel the sting that comes with this unfortunate eventuality.
The economic doldrums in which the United States certainly isn't helping matters; indeed, they're doing much to aggravate them. "The unemployment rate for recent grads age 20 to 24 was 10.7% in August, more than double the rate for those 25 and older who have bachelor's degree, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics," reports a September 16, 2011 SmartMoney.com article.
Another factor is ever-escalating tuition, which require college students to borrow ever greater principle amounts.
Just how dire have circumstances become? Extremely. "Nearly one in ten federal student-loan borrowers defaulted during the two years ended Sept. 30, 2010, meaning they failed to make a payment on their loans for more than 270 days, according to the Department of Education," the SmartMoney.com article reports. "That's up from 7% in 2008. Much of that increase came from for-profit colleges, whose students' default rate jumped to 15% from 11.6%, but the default rate among students at public and private, four-year universities also increased."
The real bind comes with the unique terms under which students borrow student loan money. Unlike credit card debt or mortgage loans, student loan debt can't be erased via such legal procedures as bankruptcy or foreclosure.
Other tough consequences include the following:
The horrible consequences of default also reach any co-signers of the borrower's student loans. These co-signers are often the borrower's parents, and they may find themselves having to draw on 401 (k) and other retirement funds as a means of defraying their offspring's debt.
Borrowers who default also face years of wreck credit, which can have serious implications for their quality of life. It could limit their options in terms of where they can live, what kind of car they can drive, and so on.
The case is clear: Student loan default is something to be avoided at all costs. No matter whether they study marketing or criminal justice, graduates who fund their postsecondary education with borrowed money must find some way to keep servicing their debt, because the alternative is almost too horrible to contemplate.