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Student Loan Debt Still Haunts Many Adults

More than half of all U.S. adults who took out student loans to attend college still have an outstanding balance. . / Credit: Student loan application image via Shutterstock

More than half of all U.S. adults who took out student loans to attend college still have an outstanding balance, a new survey shows. Those loan balances carry on significantly into older age brackets—more than four in ten of those 35 and older still have an outstanding balance. But they’re in good company; the president and first lady only paid off their student debt about eight years ago.

Student debt even affects those whose keg party days are far behind them—21 percent of baby boomers 55 and older are still paying off loans from their college days, according to a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com

The loan balances being carried by older U.S. adults are large enough to have a significant effect on their monthly finances, the survey found. Nearly half (47 percent) of adults ages 35 to 44 report their student debt balance is greater than $20,000, while 34 percent of those 45 to 54 are still carrying more than $20,000 in debt.

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Young Americans are also feeling the pressure of student loan balances as they face a challenging job market and economic climate. More than eight in ten of U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 with outstanding college loans said they currently are carrying a balance, with 34 percent of those reporting that their balance is more than $20,000. Sixteen percent said that balance is more than $40,000.

President Barack Obama feels their pain.

"For the first eight years of our marriage, we were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage," he told a student audience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 24. "And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans—check this out, all right, I’m the president of the United States – we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. That wasn’t that long ago.  And that wasn’t easy, especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations. "

The burden to pay back student loan debt also takes an emotional toll on those who took out loans. In fact, 70 percent of U.S. adults who took out loans to attend college are currently concerned or were at least somewhat concerned about how long it would take to pay off that debt. Nearly one-quarter of respondents were very concerned.

"Americans of all ages are saddled with student loan debt," said Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com. "The pressure to pay off that debt and try to get ahead can be quite high, and in the meantime, make it difficult to make ends meet."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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