Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The shares of households with student loan debt and the average amounts owed have continued to rise in recent years, with one result that such debt increasingly is affecting those within sight of retirement, a study has found.

“This growing level of debt has implications for overall financial security and for retirement preparedness specifically,” said the Employee Benefit Research Institute. “Consequently, just as these families should be shoring up their finances for their retirement that is right around the corner, they find themselves poorly positioned to do so.”

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It found that among households headed by someone age 55-64, 13 percent now have student loan debt. That remains well below the percentage of households headed by someone 35 or younger of nearly 45 percent but is more than triple that of 1992, it said.

The older the head of household, the more likely the debt was for children (for example, a Parent Plus loan) rather than for that person or a spouse, it added. Older families “are more likely to be faced with the decision to help finance their children’s college educations. This could involve a student loan, which means a choice between paying the student loan and saving for retirement,” it said.

It said that all else being equal, compared with families that don’t have student loan debt, families that do have such debt are less likely to have any savings in defined contribution programs–such as the TSP–and if they do have such savings the amounts are on average lower.

Did you know that many federal jobs qualify for student loan debt repayment help up to $10,000 per year? Under 5 U.S.C. 5379, agencies may repay the student loans of federal employees in order to attract or keep highly qualified individuals. These repayments may not amount to more than $60,000 in total. Read more at: https://ask.fedweek.com/federal-pay/student-loan-dept-repayment-help/

Direct federal student loans may also qualify for public service loan forgiveness (affiliate link) through the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.