More than 40 percent of Americans with student loan debt are either not making payments at all or are behind, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Of the 22 million holding federal student loans, 43 percent were not making payments as of January 1, according to the Journal. That does not include those still in school and people who took out private loans.
That equates to 1 in 6 borrowers – 3.6 million – who are in default on $56 billion by going at least one year without making a payment. Three million more borrowers are a month or more behind, and owe $66 billion.
Three million more have been given permission to stop making payments temporarily because of financial emergencies, such as being unemployed.
The numbers are an improvement over last year, when the nonpayment rate was 46 percent, but the Journal notes that much of the reason for the lower number comes from a government program to lower payments of struggling borrowers by tying their payments to their income.
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