"Nearly one in three Americans who are now having to pay down their student debt - or a staggering 31.5% - are at least a month behind on their payments, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests." - Josh Mitchell, "The Student-Loan Problem Is Even Worse Than Official Figures Indicated," in The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2015. Here is the article (sub. req.)
Not only is the delinquency rate higher than anticipated. There are new sources for it.
Historically, lending to students heading into professional schools, such as law, was a good bet. Currently, with the shot at a well-paying job, in or outside law, no longer good, more and more JDs are struggling just to make the monthly nut. For some that's $700, not something they can afford without a middle-class job.
Another source of trouble is the older adult who decided to enroll in an academic degree program for a career change or to improve credentials. If the payment is late and if that person is receiving Social Security, funds from that will be garnished. That will go on until the student loan is repaid.
The lesson here is not necessarily not to borrow to finance a career goal. Rather it's to find ways to reduce the amount of borrowing.
Before selecting a program, look into all sources of financial aid.
Consider part-time or temp jobs, especially those related to your studies. The law student can do freelance writing for both law firms and marketing agencies specializing in legal. Usually the schedule is flexible.
Live cheap. Often the cost of university housing and meal contracts is higher than DIY. For tutoring the kids in Mandarin in STEM subjects, a professional couple might pop for a free room.
Student loans are nothing new. In doctoral programs we had considered them a blessing that enabled us to book it over the summer for fall exams. What is new is the amount. The nut I left with was $2,500.