Why student loans might be the next recipient of a taxpayer bailout

Image Credit: Citigroup

Image Credit: Citigroup

Banks already got their bailout, so is it time for loan-laden college grads to get theirs? Consider the following:

1. Student debt has climbed by 74% since the start of the Great Recession, according to a new report from Citigroup, and now approaches $1 trillion.

2. As of the third quarter of this year, roughly 11% of student loans were seriously delinquent, surpassing credit cards for the first time.

3. Default rates are also rising with 9.1% of student borrowers defaulting within their first two years of repayment.

4. Higher default rates mean lower credit scores for Generation Y than other age groups, hurting its ability to buy a first new car or starter home. Rutgers University find that 28% of recent graduates say they have moved back in with their parents to save money, and 40% have delayed a major purchase such as a house or car due to their educational debt.

See where this is heading? When you take into account America’s burgeoning bailout culture and the rising political power of younger voters, it’s no surprise that Citigroup thinks taxpayers might end up riding to the rescue:

Taxpayers already (or will) indirectly subsidize both the housing and healthcare sectors by covering GSE losses and paying for a healthcare system that pays out more than it receives in revenues. If the continued misalignment of educational resources ultimately leads to government “forgiveness” of student loan debt, it will simply be one more example of fiscal subsidies for a narrow demographic.

Citigroup estimates that writing off defaulted student loans would cost $74 billion, though such a move might nudge other borrowers to strategically default in hopes of a bailout of their own.

10 thoughts on “Why student loans might be the next recipient of a taxpayer bailout

    • If by “getting theirs” pethokoukis means debt that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy court and that is enforced by the IRS, well, then college grads have been getting theirs for years.

      Folks, the people about to get bailed out here are the usual suspects: Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan, plus some extras –Sallie Mae and bond investors holding ABS securities backed by student loans. Sallie Mae is a particularly egregious case because it stopped being a GSE when it went private 6 or 8 years back. With the govt as the only issuer, now, lending would continue if we apply the same standards to lender and borrower (a deal is a deal.)

      So who would be lobbying for a Sallie bailout besides Sallie? University of Phoenix, for one, gets 90 percent of its revenues from student loans. Ditto for trade schools. State legislatures for another. The rise of Phoenix (my apologies) tracks the decline in public funding for state colleges and universities.

      If you wonder why upward mobility is stronger in Denmark than the US you have your answer here. If you wonder why the youth vote broke for the Ds…. Well, some Rs might be capable of independent thought.

      • If you wonder why the youth vote broke for the Ds“…

        Yes todd the so called ‘youth vote‘ broke for the party of theft and irresponsibilty…

        Then again we who vote have only ourselves to blame, we keep sending back the same people over and over again it seems…

        • If you are suggesting that Obama “bought” the youth vote, let me interject some facts. Instate tuition at the University of Wisconsin cost $225/semester when I graduated in 1970. The starting teacher salary was about $8k IIRC. (starting salary in Chicago was $9k so I am high if anything. )

          Today’s tuition is $5200 and the starting teacher salary is $41,000. My cost for a UW degree: $1,800, or about 20 percent of a modest starting salary. Today’s cost for a UW degree: $41,600 or 100 percent of a starting salary that is not at all modest by today’s standards and subject to keen competition.
          The difference, of course, is the state of Wisconsin heavily subsidized my education. The zeitgeist in 1970 was to give every kid every chance to succeed so he/she could pay back the state in competence on the job and expansion of the tax base. But that was the good old days, eh?
          So imagine that you are recent UW grad with a $25k student loan and a 50 percent chance of getting a job in your discipline. You know what inflation is because tuition has gone up — what? 30 percent? — in your 4 years. You also know that there is zero chance of shedding student debt and a real possibility that interest accrual could double it before you are done. Then Romney calls you a mooch who will vote for whomever continues to ply you with gifts. And you read here that you are a mooch out to “get yours.”

          I am guessing your reaction would be WTF? Who are these idiots?

          • todd asks: “If you are suggesting that Obama “bought” the youth vote blah, blah, & blah“…

            So what todd, I didn’t force these kids to go to college so why should I be party to paying off their student loans?

            They’re NOT my kids or my responsibility…

            Are these ex-students going to give me a piece of their earnings down the road should they start making some serious money?

            State university wasn’t their and your only choice, was it?

  1. One of the things I will say about student loans are the are a pain to deal with.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those who is/was delinquent on student loans.

    These student loan companies are vicious and byzantine in their operation. It’s damn near impossible to actually talk to someone who can help you and even then there is no desire to help. You can’t get rid of or modify student loans in bankruptcy, and they carry the full weight of the government behind them.

    When I had graduated college, I was given the typical 6-month grace period on my loans. Well, when the time came for me to begin repayment, the companies had begun sending me e-mail bills. Aside from the fact that I do all my bills still by check and mail, this was a problem because they were sending the bills to my student email account, which was deactivated when I had graduated. So, I was blissfully unaware that my loans were defaulting (now, in retrospect, warning bells should have been going off in my head. But hindsight is always 20/20). Long story short, I didn’t realize anything was amiss until I got a summons; the loan company was suing me. They wanted a lien on my income until the loans were repaid. I was able to strike a deal where that did not occur (I had money to pay off two of the smaller loans I owed, and it was decided that was enough of a good faith on my part to prevent the lien). Of course, the damage to my credit had already been done.

    Now, this is just the experience of one person, so take it for what it’s worth. But I wonder how many other people are like me who are getting emailed bills to a now-defunct email address.

    This system does need to be reformed. With the promise of gaurenteed returns on their loans, these companies have no incentive for good customer service, or even good vetting of applicants.

    • Why did you not let the lender know what email address you were currently using after school account shut down.
      Did it not ocurr to you that all communication you had received prior was sent to the school address?
      If you changed your phone number, would you let anybody know?

  2. Sad enough that the guy running the show at Sallie Mae has the audacity to have the last name as “Lord”.. They hunt you down until you are dead.. almost as if you owe to the Lord before you see the Lord when you are dead. Crooks. We spend our lives owing to uncle sam and aunt sallie. I don’t think this is going to be forever though, all kidding aside. This issue has gone multi platinum national. There is hope… isn’t there?

  3. you right wing, blue collar republicans are all the same, ” you didn’t have to go to college” get real. for most people it’s the only way to have a shot at a decent paying job–we don’t all want to work like slaves for some republican boss.

    and while we’re talkin’ handouts, don’t forget about the 13 trillion Wall Street got in 3 days with a lousy 3-page paper they had to sign–compare that to the forty pages of docs you have to sign for a home loan. It’s easy to see who’s really running the country–democracy my ass!

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