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Student loan debt growing among graduates

Mar 31, 2013 Philip Burgess

Even with the economy recovering in some respects, a large number of recent graduates are out of work and struggling to pay back their student loans. According to recent data, more young people are delinquent on their payments than ever before, a fact that may have negative impacts on their consumer credit reports.

In Equifax's latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report, experts found that, in terms of student loans, severe derogatory and charged-off balances for the first two months of 2013 reached $3 billion, up 36 percent from the same time just last year. Outstanding balances increased from February 2012 by more than 14 percent, topping out at $852.7 billion.

"Driven heavily by economic factors, including unemployed or under-employed consumers going back to school along with the rising cost of tuition, student lending has demonstrated consistent, year-over-year growth," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work options once people graduate or quit their programs, leading to a steady rise in delinquencies and loan write-offs."

Crews Cutts noted that in order to address these issues and improve loan performance, policy changes are necessary. This may include adjustments to graduated payment plans that reflect lower starting salaries. By requiring new graduates to give less back each month when they first leave college, they may be able to stay in good standing and improve their consumer credit reports.

CNBC reported that recent data from the U.S. Department of Education found approximately 6.8 million federal student loan borrowers are currently in default. But new graduates aren't the only ones among these numbers. Jason Paskowitz, a financial analyst, told the source that he owes nearly $40,000 in student loans from his education in the 1980s. His current debt is twice the original principal.

For some debtors, looking to alternative credit building options may be beneficial. By building up their financial indicators through non-standard means, they may still be able to acquire possessions like apartments and cars, which can play a role in improving one's job prospects.