COSTA MESA, Calif. (9/11/14)--A recent study by Experian on student loan trends found that consumer debt is decreasing in every major consumer-lending category, with the exception of student loans.
From 2008 to 2014, student loans climbed 84%, surpassing home equity/lines of credit, credit card and automotive debt, according to Experian.
Forty million consumers carry at least one open student loan, with an average of 3.7 student loans per consumer. The average loan balance per consumer is $29,000 and the average balance per loan is $9,000.
"What is a really compelling statistic is that the average person has nearly four student loans," said Michele Raneri, Experian vice president of analytics. "Student loans are the only credit vehicle where a lender continues to extend credit year after year without knowing the person's ability, or even willingness, to pay.
"The borrower may not yet have had the chance to demonstrate positive payment behaviors, which is a criteria used in other types of lending scenarios," Raneri added.
The study also found that 13 million consumers age 18 to 34 have at least one student loan outstanding.
But the average VantageScore credit score of those consumers is 640, according to Experian, which is 20 points higher than the average for the group.
This finding potentially indicates that student loans can help improve or establish credit history for young people, and handling the loans in a responsible manner could pay dividends in terms of their credit down the road.