The latest data are highlighted in today's Wall Street Journal.
The debt continues to skyrocket, now near $1.1 trillion. Student loan delinquincy rates are bumping up against twelve percent, which understates the degree of the problem due to hundreds of billions of repayment obligations being held in abeyance.
Today's story is that student loans are being used to pay for non-educational needs (I worked to support myself, except for a few months, throughout my seven year college career, and had an excellent, even outstanding academic record). And students are re-enrolling to rack up new debt in order to suspend paying previously incurred debt that could not be paid. The student loan program is throwing bad money after bad.
Some Americans caught in the weak job market are lining up for federal student aid, not for education that boosts their employment prospects but for the chance to take out low-cost loans, sometimes with little intention of getting a degree.
Take Ray Selent, a 30-year-old former retail clerk in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was unemployed in 2012 when he enrolled as a part-time student at Broward County's community college. That allowed him to borrow thousands of dollars to pay rent to his mother, cover his cellphone bill and catch the occasional movie.
"The only way I feel I can survive financially is by going back to school and putting myself in more student debt," says Mr. Selent, who has since added $8,000 in student debt from living expenses. Returning to school also gave Mr. Selent a reprieve on the $400 a month he owed from previous student debt because the federal government doesn't require payments while borrowers are in school.The essential flaw is that colleges and universities decide who gets the money and how much. Yet they have a conflict of interest because they are ultimate recipients of most of the trillion dollars of loan money outstanding. There is no recourse available against the colleges and universities when the loans are not repaid.
If this system is to be retained the institutions who approve and administer the loans should be required to cover the defaults and backstop delinquincies. That will clean up the mess, pronto.