Student loan debt in the U.S. has jumped nearly 150 percent in the last decade, reaching an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to credit scoring company Experian.
According to Experian's new report, 13.4 percent of U.S. consumers, spanning all generations, have at least one student loan on file. What’s more, student loans make up the largest non-household debt and the fastest growing debt segment in the country.
“Student loan balances are on the rise, which is a result of the increasing cost of higher education,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics at Experian, in a press release highlighting the results. “Even with this number moving upward, the data is showing a decrease of delinquencies, which means that consumers are managing their loan payments better than they have in the past. A student loan is an investment that can benefit someone for a lifetime. Making more informed decisions is essential for consumers and lenders alike. Lenders need deeper insights into the consumers they are lending to, and consumers — particularly younger borrowers — need a better understanding of how to manage their obligations.”
Among Generations X, Y and Z, Experian found Generation X has the largest outstanding balances, averaging $39,802, while Generation Y has the largest number of loans, averaging 4.4 per person. Generation Z has the highest percentage of loans that are in deferment at 77 percent, noted Experian.
The average student loan balance for borrowers in the country stands at $34,144, while the average VantageScore for consumers with one or more student loans stands at 650, registering 25 basis points lower than the national average. Back in 2007, the number of student loans per person was 2.4, but that has increased to 3.7 per person over the past 10 years. The percentage of late payments, however, has declined 10.1 percent since 2009, noted Experian.