Student loans burdening retirement

More than 6 million adults, including thousands in Ohio, age 50-64 are still encumbered by student loan debt that may be causing financial hardship even after they retire, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

Among older adults holding federal student loan debt in 2015, there were about 6.3 million borrowers age 50 to 64, and 870,000 borrowers age 65 and older, according to the GAO report. Over the past decade, the number of borrowers with outstanding student loans in the age 50-to-64 category, and the 65-and-older group have risen 119 percent and 385 percent respectively.

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The GAO, which examined characteristics of student loan debt held by older borrowers, found that student loan debt can follow Americans into retirement and affect their retirement income.

Retired borrowers who default on their federal student loans are subject to a number of actions to recover the amount owed, including the withholding of Social Security benefits, known as offsets.

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In fiscal year 2015, about 50 percent of collections of defaulted student loan debt came from offsets, including, but not limited to, Social Security offsets, the GAO reported.

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