Story feed: Student loans

Meg Martin
Associate editor
Public Insight Network

Thirty-seven million Americans owe money on their student loans – and many of them owe a lot of it. The average student loan balance this year is more than $24,000, the most it has ever been.

But student loan debt isn’t just a problem for recent graduates. A third of all borrowers are over 39. And delinquency rates for 40-year-olds are almost twice as high as they are for people in their 20s, suggesting that some older borrowers may be having an especially hard time managing their debt. And student loans– unlike most other forms of debt – generally can’t be eliminated by declaring bankruptcy. So some older people are finding themselves crippled by debt – even as they look ahead to retirement.

The Public Insight Network’s Samara Freemark reports:

THIS WEEK’S FEED: Student loans
Aug. 27, 2012

AUDIO FEATURE | Forget retirement: Many older Americans are still paying off student loans
Unlike most other forms of debt, student loans generally can’t be eliminated in bankruptcy. Some older borrowers face the reality of taking their debt to the grave.
Reporter: Samara Freemark, PIN reporter/producer
Audio files, transcripts and cues available at Dropbox* (preview the audio above)

ONLINE FEATURE | Video: Paul Moe
Paul Moe, of Edina, Minn., decided on his 50th birthday to fulfill a lifelong dream and go to law school. He took out $57,000 in student loans. Twenty years later, at age 69, his debt has ballooned to $158,000 and he’s in default.
Producers: Anna Weggel, PIN analyst and Samara Freemark, PIN reporter/producer
Link:  Voices of debt: Paul Moe

Curated anthology of responses from the PIN
Editor: Jeff Jones, PIN engagement editor and Samara Freemark, PIN reporter/producer 
Insight feed copy available at Dropbox*



All media files (.wav, .doc, etc.), a printable version of this document and expert contact information available at DropBox.



QUESTIONS WE POSED TO THE NETWORK [Find the query here: Did you think you'd pay off your student loans by 40?]

  • Where did your loans come from — i.e., college, retraining, etc.?


Please credit American Public Media’s Public Insight Network ( when using this feed.

Additional crediting materials (links, images and an Insight button) are available in our Dropbox folder.


This package was produced by these members of the Public Insight Network’s national editorial team:

Samara Freemark, reporter/producer
Anna Weggel, public insight analyst/videographer
Jeff Jones, engagement editor
Meg Martin, associate editor
Kate Moos, executive editor


Meg Martin Associate editor
Public Insight Network
Meg Martin is's associate editor. She joined the PIN crew in St. Paul, Minn., after five years in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, Va., where she led the online/multimedia team at the Roanoke Times newspaper. She spent two years before that in St. Petersburg, Fla., at The Poynter Institute - first as a summer writing fellow and later as a fellow and editor at Poynter Online - but she'll always be a Pittsburgher at heart.