Student Loans: New Survey Finds College Grads Carry Large Debt Into Middle Age

There's a good chance college graduates will still be more than $20,000 in student loan debt by the time they reach the age of 45.

Four-in-ten adults above the age of 35 who took out student loans are still paying them off, according to findings in a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin. Nearly half of adults ages 35-44, 47 percent, said they have outstanding student loan debt above $20,000, with 34 percent of adults ages 45-54 saying they have $20,000 or more left on the balance they owe.

With that much trouble trying to pay off college loans, it's no wonder half of all adults wish they studied something in college with more earning potential, according to the survey.

Young adults between 18-34 also feel the pinch. Of these respondents, 83 percent are carrying a balance. Some 16 percent say they still owe over $40,000.

According to the Project on Student Debt, two-thirds of college graduates in 2010 took out student loans to pay for school, with an average debt of $25,250.

Student loan debt now tops $1 trillion and exceeds both credit card and car loan debt. The cost of attending a public college can easily exceed $20,000 a year, and the cost keeps rising.

State governments have scaled back their financial support for public colleges by more than a third nationwide, between 1991 and 2008. And as states have chopped away at appropriations for their universities and cut need-based grant aid for students, the Government Accountability Office has found both public and private schools are becoming increasingly reliant on what students pay in tuition for funding.


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