Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Are Student Loans the Next Big "Debt Bomb"?

Student debt is one of the major rallying points of the Occupy Movement. Now, bankruptcy lawyers are lending credence to that message, Eric Pianen reports for the Washington Post


Bankruptcy lawyers have a frightening message for America: They’re seeing the telltale signs of a student loan debt bubble that is placing increased financial pressure on families struggling with their children’s mounting debt. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, more than 80 percent of bankruptcy lawyers have seen a substantial increase in the number of clients seeking relief from student loans in recent years.

In most cases, those clients could not meet the federal hardship standards that are necessary to discharge a student loan through bankruptcy proceedings. Instead, many of these parents or guardians who co-signed the student loans face the prospect of losing their life savings, cars or homes to collection agencies for aggressive private lenders.

The head of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACABA) told Pianen that, while he doesn’t expect student debt to have the same crushing short-term economic impact as the mortgage crisis, the long-term impact on the economy could be severe. If students aren’t willing to take on debt to get the education and training they need, the U.S. will ultimately become less competitive compared to countries where students can get affordable post secondary education.

[Photo credit: Lindsay Beyerstein, all rights reserved.]