The number of Americans who have defaulted on their student loans has reached a new high. The Institute for College Access and Success shows that 8.5 million borrowers were in default as of June 30, 2017, and more than half of those defaults came in the first half of this year alone.
More than 44 million Americans have taken out loans to pay for school, which can seem more necessary, and yet also costs more, than ever. Their debt totals $1.4 trillion. The average loan debt for 20-year-olds is $22,135. For 30-year-olds, it's $34,033.
And the cost of tuition keeps rising, while wages often don't.
Students who can't keep up sometimes feel like they have no choice. But unlike opting for deferment or forbearance, which temporally suspend payments, defaulting on a student loan should be a last resort, since it can have severe, long-lasting consequences.