A recent report indicates that Americans now hold more than one trillion dollars in student debt. This means that the total amount of student debt has surpassed credit card debt.

While the staggering $693 billion in credit card debt is spread over about 80 percent of the population, student loan debt is held by only 15 percent of the population. That much higher per-capita debt is one reason why student loans have nearly twice the delinquency rate compared to other household debt.

About 37 million people hold student loan debt nationwide, and about one in four of them is behind on their payments.

One big reason for such a high amount of student debt and a large proportion of past-due borrowers is that college graduates are not seeing a quick return on their investment as they have in past generations. Many are struggling to find work that pays enough to keep up with student loan payments and as a result have to spread their payments out over many more years.

Another problem facing student loan borrowers is that the debt cannot typically be restructured the way that credit card debt or mortgages can be. Student debt is also not eligible for discharge during a bankruptcy proceeding, unlike other types of debt. This means that even if the debt to income ratio is crippling, students are still stuck with the payments and interest until they can eventually pay it off. That situation could end up affecting their ability to purchase a home or save for retirement.

Our Florida law firm helps people successfully navigate the bankruptcy system and get back on the road to healthy finances. More information can be found on our website.

Source: CNBC News, “Student loan debt hits record high, study shows,” Scott Cohn, Oct. 8, 2012.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “U.S. student-loan debt surpasses credit-card debt,” Danielle Kurtzleben, March 8, 2012.