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Student Loan Debt Still Tops Credit Card Debt In America

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Student loan debt continues to rise in the U.S. and now surpasses the total amount of credit card debt owed by Americans.

Some 44 million Americans hold $1.31 trillion in student loan debt, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports. To put that figure in context, Americans hold $779 billion in outstanding credit card balances, a figure nearly half the size of the total student loan burden.

Americans with student debt hold, on average, around $37,172. The national average wage in the U.S. was $48,098.63 in 2015, leaving the average student with little disposable income to help cover their debt obligations, the Social Security Administration reports.

Of the $1.31 trillion in outstanding student debt, some $31 billion, is “seriously delinquent,” meaning the debtor is 90, or more, days past their payment date. Another $32.6 billion of the total debt is “newly delinquent,” meaning that the debt is 30, or more, days past its due date.

Over 2 million of those with student debt hold over $100,000, and 415,000 of those individuals hold more than $200,000. The majority of Americans with student debt are saddled with far lesser amounts, with over 30 million holding between $1-25,000.

President Donald Trump proposed a fairly radical change to the student loan program on the campaign trail last October. “Students should not be asked to pay more on the debt than they can afford,” Trump said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “And the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives.”

Trump’s solution was to “cap repayment for an affordable portion of the borrower’s income,” at “12.5 percent,” Trump said. “And if borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we’ll let them get on with their lives. They just go ahead and they get on with their lives.”

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