There’s plenty to be concerned about when talking about the areas of student loan debt. So much so that the total amount is considered a national financial crisis, which is getting worse. Some of us might shake our heads and feel bad for the graduate struggling to support themselves with so much financial weight on their backs. Unfortunately, what many don’t realize is the burden could be shared by other age groups.

According to reports, it isn’t just the young people in their 20s struggling with monthly payments. Large sums of those looking to retire are possibly responsible for up to $18 billion in student loans. It might not seem likely, but a demographic of borrowers in their 60s or above does exist, and like many others, they’re not off the hook quite yet. Decades ago it didn’t take much to borrow for college, only a few hundred dollars, but today many are seeing the gravity of immense retirement-threatening debt.  

And why is that? There are a few reasons.

The PLUS loan, for instance, is a helpful loan type which is taken out on the behalf of a parent, guardian, or in this context, grandparent. This helps out the student in question greatly, but taking out loans of large value so close to retirement is dangerous. In many cases, being on a fixed income or no longer part of the workforce means someone could be looking at painful payments with limited options.  

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Heavier loan debt totals for older college-goers came from just that: college. Adding to the 18 percent figure, veteran workers looking to expand on their salary did so by seeking higher education. Whether or not the loan versus wage increase actually occurred, but it’s another cause of the spiking figure. Some analysts encourage looking for affordable education options, like using typically lower interest federal student loans versus private student ones. Tuition for community tends to be exceptionally less, meaning the newly acquired debt won’t contradict the wage increase.  

So not all of our tremendous national debt for student loans belongs to the young and graduated. These recent figures show that even those close to retirement or the like take up a surprising chunk of the amounts, demonstrating need to revitalize this student loan system. At this point, the only thing borrowers can do is take out money responsibly, otherwise, they might be strapped for cash when it’s finally time to retire.