And defaults have almost doubled in the last five years. That is surprising.
But most alarming, they're projected to reach as many as one in five over the next several years. That's very surprising.
Student-Loan Defaults Rise puts it this way:
"The percentage of Americans who defaulted on federal student loans shortly after payments came due rose last year, fresh data show, continuing a trend throughout the recession and weak recovery.
The Education Department said 9.1% of borrowers whose payments kicked in during the 2010 federal fiscal year defaulted in the year ended Sept. 30, 2011. That's up from 8.8% in the prior year and 4.6% five years earlier. The government defines a loan as being in default when the borrower hasn't made a payment in a year.
The higher defaults come as the weak labor market has left many college graduates unable to find work or having to settle for low pay. While student debt has risen among all age groups in recent years, young college graduates are hit particularly hard because they often have no savings and earn less than older workers. But older workers who went back to school during the recession and early recovery are also struggling with payments during the weak labor market.
The Obama administration has sought to ease the burden of student debt by moving to expand a program that allows borrowers to make payments equivalent to a percentage of their income, and then to forgive the balance of debt after 20 years of payments.
Economists say the combination of higher defaults and "income-based repayment" plans could drain revenues from the federal student-loan program in coming years."
Of one thing about student loans I'm certain.
Taxpayers will end up paying multiples of what is currently being predicted that we will pay.
This student loan story will only get worse and worse over time as government programs come to the forefront and personal responsibility moves to the background or completely out of the picture.
Anybody can get a loan, and colleges are able to charge higher tuition as a result of more and more government government funds going to both students directly for loans and to colleges indirectly for tuition.
As usual with government subsidies and related programs and beneficiaries, aka colleges, it's likely to be a downward spiral all the way as government plays chief subsidizer, savior and sponsor.
Therefore, my fellow taxpayers, we ain't seen nuthin' yet.
That's my take.