Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Student Loans and a Brutal Lifetime of Debt (Dahn Shaulis and Glen McGhee)

The US Department of Education is holding more than 900,000 student loans that are at least 30 years old. Tens of thousands of these loans originated almost a half-century ago. And it's likely that most of the total balances are the result of interest charges that have accumulated over the decades--from people who can't ever pay back their loans.

Source: US Department of Education  

Will these student loans finally be forgiven under the latest Biden forgiveness plan?  Or will the US continue to honor (and bail out) the rich while punishing generations of the working class for their mistakes?  

The information in this article is part of a larger effort to examine quality of life, disability, and premature death among student loan debtors. Our most recent Freedom of Information requests to the US Department of Education attempt to gather more information.

The Higher Education Inquirer is asking for the age and cause of death of the last 100 student loan debtors whose debt was relieved because of death.  The age and cause of death should be listed on the death certificates sent to the US Department of Education for student loan relief.   (Date Range for Record Search: From 09/09/2022 To 09/09/2023)

The Higher Education Inquirer is requesting the number of loans and the dollar amount of loans that have been discharged each year for the last ten years due to (1) death and (2) disability.  If available, we would also like an estimate of the number of debtors affected in that decade.   (Date Range for Record Search: From 09/08/2013 To 09/08/2023)

From Glen McGhee:

A study published in the Journal of American College Health[2] reveals that student loans are associated with negative health outcomes among college students, including delaying medical care. The study found that those with student loans are more likely to delay medical, dental, and mental health care[1]. 
Another study published in Health Soc Care Community[4] found that borrowers behind or in collections on student loans are forgoing healthcare after self-reporting general physical ill-health. The study's objective examines whether falling behind on student loans may compound ill-health by deterring people from seeking healthcare. The results of this study confirm that student loans are associated with poor health. 
A survey conducted by ELVTR[5] found that 54% of respondents say their mental health struggles are directly related to their student loan debt. Additionally, over 80% of participants say student loan debt has delayed a major life event for them. 

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