January 13th, 2012
Econintersect: Many think of young college graduates saddled with college debt after graduation but the fastest growing age demographic for college debt is between 35 and 49. All age groups are seeing debt increasing over the past three years but those in the years most often associated with mid-life crisis have seen the fastest growth. Younger people still have slightly more debt on average (aged 26-29 average $14,000 outstanding) but 38-41 are getting closer with $12,000, up from less than $9,000 in 2009. The reason for the dramatic increase in college debt for those middle-aged is attributed to retraining efforts by millions of unemployed.
The amount of student debt is actually much larger than might be assumed from the numbers above, which is data for all student loans including those that may have been accumulated a number of years back. In 2010 the average debt for all graduates who used loans to help fund their education was over $25,000. And the total student debt outstanding stood at $845 billion at the end of the second quarter 2011 and seems likely to soon exceed $1 trillion. College loans surpassed credit card debt in the summer of 2010 and less than a year later was larger by $172 billion.
This leads to some questioning whether college is actually worth the money, as discussed in the following video from CNNMoney:
A particularly negative view was expressed by Gary Gibson (Whiskey and Gunpowder) on October 25, 2011:
College is not necessary for most people. It never was. In fact, the preoccupation with college has left America bereft of its former ability to create wealth.