Seniors Forced Into Poverty As Education Department Demands Payment

Sep 13, 2014 by

The Education Department is demanding so much money from seniors with defaulted student loans that it’s forcing tens of thousands of them into poverty, according to a government audit.

At least 22,000 Americans aged 65 and older had a part of their Social Security benefits garnished last year to the point that their monthly benefits were below federal poverty thresholds, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Education Department-initiated collections on defaulted federal student loans left at least another 83,000 Americans aged 64 and younger with poverty-level Social Security payments, GAO data show. Federal auditors cautioned that the number of Americans forced to accept poverty-level benefits because of past defaults on federal student loans are surely higher.

More than half, or 54 percent, of federal student loans held by borrowers at least 75 years old are in default, according to the federal watchdog. About 27 percent of loans held by borrowers aged 65 to 74 are in default. Among borrowers aged 50 to 64, 19 percent of their loans are in default. The Education Department generally defines a default as being at least 360 days past due.

As unpaid student debt approaches $1.3 trillion, the federal watchdog’s findings underscore the consequences of increased student debt burdens and the risk they’ll wreak havoc on households in the coming years if U.S. workers continue to see little increase in their paychecks, the economy barely grows, and the Education Department’s contractors keep borrowers in the dark on repayment options.

via Seniors Forced Into Poverty As Education Department Demands Payment.

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