Last Updated Mar 24, 2011 10:32 AM EDT
According to a new report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, nearly two out of five student loan borrowers were delinquent on their payments at some time during their first five years of repayment. To be considered delinquent, a borrower's payments must be 60 days late.
Actually, the news is even grimmer than that. To avoid delinquency, nearly a quarter of borrowers legally postponed their payments.
Here, however, is the reality that I found most shocking: Only 37% of borrowers, who began repaying their federal student loans in 2005, have managed to make timely payments without getting into trouble. That means nearly two out of every three borrowers have been struggling!
The statistics are even more disturbing because students are increasingly borrowing to pay for college. About two-thirds of students are borrowing for college and they are graduating with an average college debt of $24,000. According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid, student loan debt, roughly $896 billion, now exceeds the nation's credit card debt.
The report, Delinquency: The Untold Story of Student Loan Borrowing, uncovered these severe problems in the student loan world:
- Borrowers don't understand loan terms.
- They rarely know what their repayment options are.
- They aren't aware of the options that would help them manage their loans.
student loan cheat sheet that Mark Kantrowitz developed at FastWeb, the scholarship search engine.
More on CBS MoneyWatch:8 Ways to Wipe Out Your Student Debt
Best Way to Pay Student Loans
Who Borrows the Most for College?