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Student Loan Debt Is Growing Astoundingly Fast

Credit card debt is almost the same as it was 10 years ago, vehicle debt is only modestly higher, but student loan debt is 4 TIMES as much.


U.S. Credit Card Cumulative Debt Has Been Relatively Stable

Ten years ago—during the 1st quarter of 2004—the nation’s households owed $690 billion in credit card balances. Now—during the 1st quarter of 2014—the amount is $660 billion, just slightly less than an entire decade ago.

True, the amount steadily increased during the run-up to the Great Recession, peaking at $870 billion during the last quarter of 2008, before falling consistently as creditors restricted access to credit and borrowers cut back on their credit purchases. But since the beginning of 2011 the amount has held quite steady for more than 3 years, between $660 and $700 billion throughout that time.

U.S. Vehicle Loan Debt Has Been Almost As Steady

Ten years ago, the nation’s households owed $720 billion in vehicle loans. Now the amount is $880 billion, only 22% more than an entire decade ago.

Similar to credit card debt, vehicle loan debt climbed before the Great Recession, peaking at $830 billion, and then declined, although less significantly. But contrary to credit card debt, ever since the beginning of 2010 the vehicle loan amount has been climbed slowly.

Student Loan Debt Is Increasing by Leaps and Bounds

Student loans are an entirely different story.

Ten years ago the total student loan debt was $260 billion, much less than half as much as either credit card or vehicle loan debt totals at the time. Now the student loan debt is significantly more than vehicle loans and almost twice as much as credit cards.

The student loan amount is now, as of the 1st quarter of 2014, $1,100 billion, or $1.11 trillion. That’s more than 4 TIMES larger than just a decade ago!

Unlike any other kind of consumer debt, student loan debt has increased almost every quarter of the last ten years. It has increased by $110 billion in 2013 alone.

After comprising less than 1/8th of all non-housing household debt 10 years ago, student loans are now 3/8th of all such debt. At present rates of growth, soon half of all non-housing household debt will be student loans!


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