More than 45 million student loan borrowers owe student debt, a result of decades of disinvestment in public higher education that has shifted costs onto students and their families while leaving colleges and universities underfunded.
Collectively, student debt is over $1.5 trillion, and this debt surpasses all types of household debt other than mortgages. Unlike holders of other types of consumer debt, who have experienced lower levels of delinquency and default since the Great Recession, student loan borrowers remain in distress.
Nearly 1 in 4 federal borrowers are in default or struggling to stay current on their loans. When they fall behind on their payments, the consequences are dire: negative credit reports, wage garnishment and diminished options to cure defaulted loans.
Consumer credit reports—which are the keys to employment, housing and access to credit, and consequently to economic stability itself—are tarnished. This is why the AFT has launched a student debt clinic program to help our members. But we know that helping each other manage student debt is not enough; we need to join together and fight to change the terms of the debate about student debt.