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College loan debtors and delinquents increasing
NISKAYUNA -- It is adding up to be an economic crisis. The number of college loan debtors and delinquents is increasing. Two out of five people with student loans will be delinquent on payments, and the penalties can prevent graduates from getting on their feet.
Like scoring a good grade on an exam, it's a good feeling to know you're about to set sail from college. Guy Ladoucer from Niskayuna doesn't know how choppy the water on that sea can be.
"It's just been a great ride," Ladoucer said. "I'm not looking forward to when I graduate and have to pay for that experience."
Ladoucer will leave SUNY New Paltz with an English degree. But he'll need to be a math whiz to begin his adult life.
"I've accrued quite a bit of debt," Ladoucer said. "I'm the average actually. $25,000 will be my total once I graduate and enter the work force."
14 million people under the age of thirty have student loans to pay off.
When asked what a kid can do to actually get his life financially on the right track while paying off student loans, Dennis Fagan of Fagan Associates said, "It's difficult. You have one trillion dollars in total student loan debt, 3.5 billion of which went bad in the first quarter according to the federal reserve, which was more than credit card delinquency."
The problem goes farther than just a student. For private loans, parents who co-sign can also be held responsible for that debt. The possibility that a student loan debt crisis can hurt the economy cannot be ignored. One outcome to the equation may be a slow-down in the housing market.
"Someone with $100,000 in debt might be paying $1,000 for student loans," Fagan said. "They might not be able to afford a home or afford the type of home they would afford otherwise."
The best advice from the experts -- pay it off as quick as you can, whatever you have to do to meet that goal.
"It's not what people want to hear but perhaps you have to work a second job," Fagan said. "You work during the day and you go to the second job. Whatever you make at the second job you put that on your student loan."
But, baby boomers staying at work longer, and technological advances can diminish the amount of opportunities.
"My plan is to get a job right away," Ladoucer said. "I want to put that degree to use to enter the work force to make sure I can afford the big purchases down the road, like a house, like a car, and any medical expenses that might crop up." When asked how far down the road he thinks he'll have to wait for some of those things, Ladoucer said, "that's a good question. I have no idea."
"I think it's going to change," Fagan said. "I think we're beginning to see pressure."
Ladoucer has an idea about how to turn things around. He's interning at the New York Public Interest Research Group, trying to put the pressure on SUNY schools to lower tuition rates.
If a student defaulted on his federal student loan, the government can withhold a tax refund, garnish your wages, and reduce social security benefits. A California congresswoman has introduced a student loan forgiveness act that would suspend interest rates for the unemployed, and forgive debt after ten years of payments of ten percent a borrower's discretionary income.
Our Fact Finders did some digging to see how SUNY's yearly tuition rates matched up with state schools in neighboring states for in-state students.
We found that it would cost a student $15,562 for a year at Penn State's University Park campus. It's $13,232 at UMass Amherst. A year at UVM costs $13,344. Rutgers tuition for in-state students costs $13,073. The average SUNY cost, according to the school's website for a commuting in-state student is $15,440.