Brad Rhodes: Will your student loan debt last into retirement

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

Student loan debt is a growing problem in the United States, with many people struggling to pay off their loans well into their retirement years. According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the number of older Americans with student loan debt has quadrupled over the past decade, with over 2 million people aged 60 and over holding student loan debt. This trend has serious implications for older Americans’ financial security and wellbeing.

One of the main challenges facing older Americans with student loan debt is the impact on their retirement savings. Many people who are still paying off student loans may not be able to contribute as much to their retirement savings as they would like, leaving them vulnerable to financial insecurity in retirement. Moreover, some older Americans may have to continue working well into their retirement years to pay off their student loans, which can be physically and emotionally challenging.

Additionally, student loan debt can impact older Americans’ access to credit and other financial products. Many lenders may be reluctant to extend credit to people with high levels of debt, which can limit older Americans’ ability to obtain credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products. This can have serious implications for their ability to purchase homes, cars, and other assets and impact their overall financial wellbeing.

Older Americans with high levels of debt may be more likely to delay or forego medical treatment or other essential services due to financial constraints. This can seriously affect their health and wellbeing and lead to higher healthcare costs in the long run. Moreover, student loan debt can also impact older Americans’ ability to access healthcare and other essential services.

There are several strategies that older Americans with student loan debt can use to manage their debt and protect their financial security. One of the most important is to explore options for loan forgiveness or other forms of relief. Depending on the type of loan and the borrower’s circumstances, loan forgiveness or discharge options may be available, which can help reduce or eliminate the debt burden.

Moreover, older Americans with student loan debt can explore options for refinancing or consolidating their loans. By consolidating their loans, borrowers may be able to obtain a lower interest rate and reduce their monthly payments. Additionally, refinancing may be an option for borrowers with good credit who are able to obtain a lower interest rate.

Another strategy for managing student loan debt is to prioritize payments and create a budget. By prioritizing loan payments and creating a budget, borrowers can better manage their finances and ensure that they are making progress in paying off their debt. Moreover, older Americans can work with financial advisors to explore other strategies for protecting their financial security, such as investing in retirement accounts or exploring other income sources.

In conclusion, student loan debt is a growing problem for older Americans, with serious implications for their financial security and wellbeing. However, there are several strategies that older Americans can use to manage their debt and protect their financial security. By exploring options for loan forgiveness or relief, refinancing or consolidating loans, prioritizing payments, and working with financial advisors, older Americans can better manage their debt and achieve greater financial security and wellbeing in retirement.

Brad Rhodes lives in Lexington and is a member of Syndicated Columnists