Fans of the 1970s classic sitcom “The Odd Couple” might remember the episode in which Oscar Madison introduces his roommate Felix Unger to his sleazy insurance agent from Lloyd’s of Lubbock, whose come-on is that he offers you a policy just by shaking your hand. It appears that Lloyd is back in business, only now he’s working for the federal government. Or at least his underwriting guidelines have been adopted by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Wall Street Journal published a long story on Monday about the federal Parent Plus loan program, which it says “asks almost nothing about its borrowers’ incomes, existing debts, savings, credit scores or ability to repay. Then it extends loans that are nearly impossible to extinguish in bankruptcy if borrowers fall on hard times.”
And lots of them have. As of September 2015, 11% of Parent Plus borrowers hadn’t made a payment on their loans in at least a year, which “exceeds the default rate on U.S. mortgages at the peak of the housing crisis.” And the problem is only going to get worse. The number of families with Parent Plus loans has jumped more than 60% since 2005, the Journal reports, to 3.5 million at the end of last year. They owe a combined $77.5 billion, or an average $22,000. [Continue reading]