All of a Sudden Students Have Stopped Paying Their Loans, Again—Why?

After declining for 6 months, delinquency rates have shot back up. 

The first six months of 2013 brought us a small measure of good news about student loans: the delinquency rate, while still far too high for comfort, was falling.

Sadly, that's no longer the case. As shown on the graph below, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that 11.8% of outstanding loan balances were 90 days or more past due by the end of September, a new post-recession high.  

This could just be a temporary blip. Or, it could be a sign that the problems with student lending are still going to linger with us even while the economy heals, as students who graduated (or dropped out) into the anemic post-recession economy fall behind on their debt. In any event, it's disconcerting, not to mention a reminder that Congress might want to consider stepping in and doing something sooner rather than later. 

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Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

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