Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

Tackling Student Loan Debt

Keep your credit and your children's intact by getting college loans under control

debt challenge school loans graduation

Have a financial plan ready to pay off those student loans. — Photo by Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Pay Down Your Debt Challenge Icon

When many people think about student loans, they mistakenly assume that educational debt is restricted to recent college graduates, or those in their 20s and 30s.

In reality, many people carry student loans well into their 50s, 60s and beyond. Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans according to recent research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

According to the College Board, it takes the average college student about 15 years to pay off his or her educational loans. So if you returned to school in your 40s — say to complete a bachelor's degree you always wanted to earn, or perhaps to pursue a graduate degree — you could still be grappling with those loans.

And even if you haven't racked up college debt of your own, you might have co-signed for your children's student loans, making you just as legally responsible for repayment as your offspring.

Whether you have your own educational loans that remain outstanding, or you're on the hook for college debt as a result of having co-signed for your kids' student loans, you need a financial game plan.

You don't want to let any student loans go into default, as that can damage your credit rating, hurt your chances of getting certain jobs and make you ineligible to receive future educational loans. Also, if you default on a student loan, even one you received decades ago, a lender can legally seize part of your Social Security checks to repay that debt.
Jesse Ryan, managing director of Accounting Principals, suggests the following three-phased approach to help get student loans under control.

Next: Encourage your kids to pay their student loans. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait


Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Being Social



Savings Challenge

Have the gift of thrift? Share your tips. Discuss

Hand holding credit cards

Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

Join our challenge July 18-Aug. 14 and start your debt-free journey. Discuss