It is no secret that going to college in the United States is not cheap. In fact, the average four-year college could cost anywhere from $10,000-$40,000 per year depending on where you go, making that degree one expensive piece of paper.

How common is student loan debt?

The amount of student loan debt climbs every year, putting graduates further and further behind and buried in debt. In fact, 70% of students graduate with student loans, with thoseĀ in the Gen X age group owing a staggering average of $40k each.

While it may be comforting to realize you aren’t alone with student loan debt, the result it has on our country as a whole is alarming. The amount of debt due to student loans has nearly tripled in the past decade and has no indication of slowing down.

How student loan debt is affecting the older generation

With the large bill connected to obtaining an education, more students than ever are needing help with paying their bill. Over 57% of those over the age of 55 with student loan debt are actually cosigners to their children’s loans and not students themselves.

Cosigning a child’s loan comes with a hefty risk, as over 10% of accounts are over 90 days past due. With a national average monthly payment of $393, recent grads are struggling to make ends meet.

Will it get better?

With employers expecting at least a bachelor’s degree and tuition prices rising each year, the odds of the situation changing for the better are slim to none. The cost of college has an effect on graduates even past their debt-to-income ratio. Owing that much debt, especially with late payments, prevents the younger generation from purchasing real estate, resulting in 32% of graduates still living at home.

Student loan debt is a national crisis that can affect everyone. Researching different universities and programs, along with becoming informed about specific loans can help ease the issue after graduating.