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A third of 25- to 34-year-olds have student debt — here’s how other age groups stack up

Data from The Washington Post reveals that student debt is most common in 25- to 34-year-olds.

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Younger Americans — specifically those who are 25 to 34 years old — make up the age group where student debt is most common. In fact, a third of adults in this age range have federal student loan debt, according to recent data from The Washington Post.

These findings don't come as much as a surprise as adults who are 25- to 34-years-old are likely all recent college graduates.

The next age group where we see student debt most widespread is in 18- to 24-year-olds, followed closely by those aged 35 to 49. Here's a full breakdown of the percentage of each age group with federal student loan debt:

Age group Percentage with federal student loan debt
18 to 24 years24%
25 to 34 years33%
35 to 49 years23%
50 to 61 years12%
62+ years4%

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What 25- to 34-year-old student loan borrowers should consider

While we ideally expect student debt loads to become smaller as people get older, since borrowers have more time to make payments, being in your later 20s and early 30s with student loans can certainly put you in a tough financial bind. In this age range you've had some time since graduating to build a career with a salary that allows you to make monthly payments, yet you're also faced with other competing financial commitments whether that be a first-time mortgage, building a family or even adding graduate student loans onto your higher education debt.

It's important for adults in this age group to consider what monthly payments are higher priority (things like rent, utility bills and a car loan). This can also include expenses that allow you to work and bring in income, such as child care costs. With federal student loan payments on pause, right now is a good time to make sure these other payments are taken care of.

What student loan borrowers of all ages should consider

Borrowers in any of the age groups outlined in the table above can still take advantage of the federal student loan payment and interest pause that has been in effect for the last two years and continues through Aug. 31, 2022. There are even talks now that President Biden may further extend the repayment pause.

Since your federal student loans aren't collecting interest, you may want to take advantage by prioritizing instead adding to your savings while banks are raising interest rates. A solid option is the high-yield savings account Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings, which offers an above-average APY with no monthly fees and no minimum deposits.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    1.20%

  • Minimum balance

    None to open; $1 to earn interest

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fees

    N/A

  • Offer checking account?

    No

  • Offer ATM card?

    No

Terms apply.

Others who have some savings set aside can go ahead and continue making student loan payments even with the pause. Since any payments during the freeze will be made directly toward your principal, you can chip away at it faster than if you were paying on an interest-accruing balance. Plus, when the forbearance period does end and payments and interest resume, you will then have a smaller balance, which means less interest will be able to accrue.

If you have private student loans

Private student loan borrowers are in a different boat since there hasn't been a payment or interest pause on their loans. These borrowers may want to consider refinancing with a top lender to see if they can score a lower interest rate than the one they pay now.

With the expectation of more interest rate hikes in the coming months, now is a good time to refinance any high, variable-interest debt before it gets more expensive. Refinancing to a fixed interest rate locks you in for that same rate for the duration of your new loan term. In today's economic conditions, it's likely that a fixed rate today will be lower than a fixed rate months down the line.

A lender like SoFi offers fixed-rate loans with loan terms of five, seven, 10, 15 and 20 years, plus no origination fees to refinance. Borrowers also have the option to apply with a co-signer, plus get access to payment protections, free career coaching and financial advice from planners.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

  • Cost

    No origination fees to refinance

  • Eligible loans

    Federal, private, graduate and undergraduate loans, Parent PLUS loans, medical and dental residency loans

  • Loan types

    Variable and fixed

  • Variable rates (APR)

    From 1.74% (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)

  • Fixed rates (APR)

    From 3.49% (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)

  • Loan terms

    5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years

  • Loan amounts

    From $5,000; over $10,000 for medical/dental residency loans

  • Minimum credit score

    N/A

  • Minimum income

    N/A

  • Allow for a co-signer

    Yes

Terms apply.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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