Showing posts with label Household Debt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Household Debt. Show all posts

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Snapshot of the student loan crisis from a recent New York Federal Reserve Bank report: Surprise, surprise! Debt levels Are rising

Researchers at the New York Federal Reserve Bank issued a press release on April 3 that reported on household borrowing and student debt.  Here are some excerpts from that press release. I have highlighted particularly interesting passages:
Student Loan Update 
Aggregate student loan balances have continued to increase and stood at about $1.3 trillion at the end of 2016, an increase of about 170 percent from 2006. Aggregate student debt is increasing because more students are taking out loans, the loans are for larger amounts, and the speed with which borrowers repay their debts has slowed down. New debt originations continue to increase: 2015 graduates with student loans left school with about $34,000, up from only $20,000 just ten years before. 
While about 36 percent of student debt holders owed less than $10,000, and 65 percent owed less than $25,000, only about 5 percent of student debt holders owed more than $100,000 in debt in 2016. Yet these big-balance borrowers account for nearly 30 percent of the total balances outstanding, so their outcomes and repayment success have a disproportionate influence on the overall picture.

Student loan default and delinquency rates appear to have leveled off, albeit at a relatively high level. Defaults peaked in 2012, and have stabilized since 2013; the 2009-11 cohorts saw the highest default rates, with some improvement among more recent cohorts.

We have noted in the past that delinquency and default rates are lower among higher-balance borrowers; however, the default rates among higher-balance borrowers have worsened notably in recent years. Further, payment progress is slower among those who borrowed more. Ten years later, over 70 percent of the original balance has been repaid among those who had borrowed less than $5,000 when they left college in 2006, compared to a reduction of only 25 percent among students who borrowed more than $100,000.

Higher balances, increasing participation in student loan programs, and slower repayment are pushing up aggregate student loan balances. Although defaults are improving, the pay down progress of recent cohorts continues to decline.
The Fed researchers also commented on the relationship between student-loan indebtedness and homeownership:
The final portion of the press briefing was on educational attainment, student loans, and homeownership, using education records from the National Student Clearinghouse that were newly matched with credit records from the Consumer Credit Panel. These findings are presented in greater detail in a separate post. New analysis shows that college education is associated with markedly higher homeownership rates regardless of debt status, which increases at each additional level of college attainment. However, having student loans dampens homeownership rates at every level of education, and higher debt balances are associated with even lower homeownership rates.
Takeaways from the Fed researchers' findings

In essence, the Federal Reserve Bank researchers are telling us this:

Loan balances are going up, more people are taking out student loans, and repayment rates are slowing, particularly for borrowers with high loan balances. I imagine a lot of these slow paying borrowers are in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program or an income-driven (IDR) plan.  

The vast majority of people making payments under  PSLF and IDR are not making payments large enough to pay down their loan balances. And, as the Fed researchers noted, among people who borrowed $100,000 or more, only 25 percent were able to pay off their student loans within 10 years.

Regarding student loans and home buying, the Fed researchers had this to say: Homeownership increases with people's education level, but student loans hamper the ability of people to buy a house, regardless of income level.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Will the Student Loan Crisis Bring Down the Economy? My Pessimistic View

Mike Krieger recently posted a blog on Liberty Blitzkrieg in which he argued that two issues will dominate American politics in the coming years: health care and student loans.

"Going forward," Krieger wrote,  "I believe two issues will define the future of American politics: student loans and healthcare. Both these things . . .  have crushed the youth and are prevent[ing] a generation from buying homes and starting families. The youth will eventually revolt, and student loans and healthcare will have to be dealt with in a very major way, not with tinkering around the edges."

Krieger concluded his essay with this pessimistic observation:
Student loans and healthcare are both ticking time bombs and I see no real effort underway to tackle them at the macro level where they need to be addressed. Watch these two issues closely going forward, as I think fury at both will be the main driver behind the next populist wave.
Krieger's dismal projection regarding student loans is supported by recent reports from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  The Fed reported that more than 44 million people are now burdened by student loans. About 4.7 million borrowers are in default and another 2.4 million are delinquent.

Moreover, a lot of this debt is carried by older Americans. According to Fed data, $216 billion is owed by people who are 50 years old or older. And we know from other sources that student loan debt is following people into their retirement years. In fact, about 170,000 people are having their Social Security checks garnished due to student loans that are in default.

Borrowers carry debt levels of varying amounts, but the Fed reported that 2 million people owe $100,000 or more on student loans. Interestingly, people with small levels of debt are more likely to default than people who have high levels of indebtedness. In the 2009 cohort, 34 percent of people who owed $5,000 or less had defaulted within five years. Among people owing $100,000 or more, only 18 percent defaulted during this same period.

And of course default rates don't tell the full story. Almost 6 million people have signed up for income-driven repayment plans, and most are making payments so low they will never pay off their loans. Millions more have loans in deferment or forbearance; and these people aren't even making token loan payments. Meanwhile, interest is accruing on their loans, making it more difficult for borrowers to pay them off once they resume making payments.

Surely, this rising level of student-loan indebtedness has an impact on the American economy. According to the New York Times, student loans now constitutes 11 percent of total household indebtedness--up from just 5 percent in 2008.  Obviously, Americans with burdensome levels of student-loan debt are finding it more difficult to buy homes, start families, save for retirement or even purchase basic consumer items.  No wonder sales at brick-and-mortar retail stores are down and the casual dining industry is on the skids.

So far, as Krieger pointed out, our government is tinkering around the edges of the student loan crisis, making ineffective efforts to rein in the for-profit college industry and urging students to sign up for long-term income-driven repayment plans.

But this strategy is not working. According to the General Accounting Office, about half the people who sign up for income-driven repayment plans are kicked out for noncompliance with the plans' terms. The for-profit colleges, beaten back a bit by reform efforts during President Obama's administration, have come roaring back, advertising their overpriced programs on television.

All this will end badly, but our government is doing everything it can to forestall the day of judgment. In Price v. U.S. Department of Education, a case I wrote about earlier this week, the Department of Education took six years to make the erroneous decision that a University of Phoenix graduate was not entitled to have her loans forgiven. DOE's ruling clearly violated federal law, and the Phoenix grad finally won relief in federal court.

But DOE isn't concerned about following the law. It just wants to stall for time--knowing that a student-loan apocalypse is not too far away.
The Student Loan Apocalypse


Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley. Household Debt Makes a Comeback in the U.S. New York Times, May 17, 2017.

Mike Krieger. Student Loans and Healthcare--Two Issues that Will Define American Politics Going Forward. Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 4, 2017.

Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw. Looking at Student Loan Defaults through a Larger Window. Liberty Street Economics (Federal Reserve Bank of New York. February 19, 2015.