Mike Davies
January 2017

Parents Are Taking On Student Loans

According to a new analysis by USC researchers, more parents are taking on their children’s student loans and putting themselves at financial risk. Looking back 20 years ago at the 1995-96 academic year compared to the 2015-16 academic year borrowers for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students went up 56%

Student debt is out of hand. There is a total of $1.3 trillion shared across 43 million Americans. The average debt racks up to over $30,000 for each borrower. Parents are already looking for ways to help their children repay their student loans. A growing number of parents are just taking on their children’s loans altogether.

According to a new analysis by USC researchers, more parents are taking on their children’s student loans and putting themselves at financial risk. Looking back 20 years ago at the 1995-96 academic year compared to the 2015-16 academic year borrowers for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students went up 56% according to the College Board. The amount borrowed went up $3.6 billion to $12 billion. The median income of 1980 has steadily reduced since then and as of 2013, the median income is $2,000 less than 1980’s despite inflation.

“We worry about the potential consequences of taking on student loan debt at a time when these parents should be saving for retirement and paying down their own debt,” says study co-author Jennifer Ailshire, Ph.D., an assistant professor of gerontology at USC. “Some parents may choose to delay retirement as a result of needing to save more or pay down more debt.”

Are parents approaching their children’s loans this way because they simply hate to see their kids struggle or do they see a clear future where they will be put at such a disadvantage they can’t possibly escape without taking on subpar living conditions?

With college costs rising, so has the amount of parent loans. If college costs $25,000 students are three times likely to get Federal Parent PLUS loans than lower-cost schools. Students are twice as likely to get Federal Parent PLUS loans at private non-profit colleges than at public or private for-profit colleges.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of older adults whose social security benefit is being reduced as a result of outstanding student loan balances,” Ailshire says. The parents of students need to do the work to find out if they can adequately pay off those Parent PLUS loans before taking them out because they can hit well-adjusted adults just as hard as struggling college grads. Especially, how the median income hasn’t shown grown in 30 years.


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Mike Davies

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