'That's what debt is, it's a burden.' Amount of student loan debt dramatically increasing for those 60 and older, experts say

Between her and her son, Myers said they're looking to pay back around $26,000 in loans just from that one year.

Posted: May 17, 2019 6:31 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Dori Myers is a proud mom, her son recently graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute. 

"He got his degree in automotive collision repair," said Myers, "and he's expected to get a job hopefully sooner rather than later."

Myers' son, who is 20, went through the one year program at Lincoln Tech's Indianapolis campus. 

Between her and her son, Myers said they're looking to pay back around $26,000 in loans just from that one year. 

"That takes a chunk out of my budget," she said," and of course on a teacher salary, that budget is not big."

"It was a burden that I have to take on because you do want your children to go on and be successful," Myers added. 

We got in touch with Myers through a Facebook post. That's where we asked if you, or someone you know, is currently paying on student loans.

Many of you responded saying you're paying on loans worth several thousand dollars, some of the loan debt even being from decades ago. 

Some, who are in their sixties, commented saying they'll probably die with student loan debt.

We found a study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In its 18 pages, researchers sorted out student loan debt, among those 60 and older, by state.

In Indiana, in 2017, nearly 73,000 Hoosiers had a total of about $2 billion worth of student loan debt. Meanwhile, Illinois had about $5 billion during that time.

"That's what debt is, it's a burden," said Myers.

Experts predict the debt will likely continue to grow.

"We've got to learn how to make this affordable," said Myers, "So that the average teacher's kid, like my kid, can go to school affordable or the lady that works in the cafeteria, that her child can go to school. The mechanic in the shop, that his or her son can go to school."

"I think that's really where need to do better," she added, "There should be no one coming out of school with debts of 50, 60, 80, 100 thousand dollars. It just shouldn't be that way."

While Myers disagrees with making education free, she does agree that it needs to be affordable.

"I learned a lesson a long time ago from my dad," said Myers, "When he paid for my college, I didn't appreciate it because it wasn't my money. It was free. Then, when I kind of messed up, left school and then years later went back to finish my degree, that was on my dime and I valued that dime far more than I did my dad's dime."

Myers ultimately had her own debt to sort out after finishing school years later. While she was able to pay off her student loans by her 30s, she credits most of it to financial life experiences and being out on her own beforehand. 

"My dad, who was very frugal, said you don't want any more than you are willing to pay back because it's your burden after you borrow it," she said, "Your burden has to be something you can handle."

"Fortunately for me, being a little older and being someone who was out on their own, I had already left home," she said, "I lived on my own. I had the mortgage payments, the utility payment, the car payment, the insurance, I was already doing those things on my own. So I had to know what my burden was so I could pay that burden back."

Having gone through these experiences, Myers believes others could benefit from financial education. As an educator herself, she'd like to see more classes, like financial literacy, being offered before kids head to college.

"There's a language out there that they don't know," said Myers, "You know debt, income, the burden of this loan. There's the revolving interest, annual interest. These are things that if you don't have this experience, you're going uhm... ok, and then you don't really know what it means."

"Kids going in, unless they're either a little older and have a more sense of money, or unless they have parents that guided their way," she added, "Sometimes they go in like, yeah I'll borrow that and then the burden is too gruesome for them."

While there are more people, 60 and older, who are paying on student loan debt, experts say a majority of those loans were used on their child's education. 

Though Myers imagines she'll be helping with her son's loans into her 60s, she's hopeful he won't be in that category once he fully takes over payments. 

"I hope to set him up so he can be a successful young man," she said, "He's only 20, he's still young, but I'm hoping this will lead him into his future." 

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