More student debtors are falling behind on their federal student loans, after three years of declines in late payments—and with no clear explanation, experts aren’t sure whether to take it as a sign of distress or a temporary blip.
The share of Americans at least 31 days late on loans from the U.S. Department of Education ticked up to 18.8 percent as of June 30, up from 18.6 percent the same time last year, new federal data show 1 . About 3.3 million Americans have gone more than a month without making a required payment on their Education Department loans—up about 320,000 borrowers. 2
The rise interrupts a period of 12 straight quarters of declines in delinquency rates, according to numbers dating to 2013, and comes despite the fact that the U.S. economy has improved, which normally would mean richer borrowers better able to afford their bills.