Total student debt has nearly tripled over the past eight years, according to a report from the New York Federal Reserve.
Student debt reached $966 billion as of the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, with a 70% increase in both the number of borrowers and the average balance per person. The number of borrowers delinquent on their student loan payments also has grown, from under 10% in 2004 to 17% in 2012.
The growth in student debt is the result of a combination of more students attending college, more parents taking out loans for their children's education and a lack of options for discharging debt, the fed reports.
In 2005, Congress passed a law making it more difficult to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy. While student debt tops all other forms of consumer debt, it's the only type that cannot be absolved in bankruptcy.
The report also found that fewer people with student loans are buying homes. Of borrowers ages 25 to 30 who are taking out new mortgages, the percentage of those with student debt has fallen by half, from nearly 9% in 2005 to just above 4% last year.
"The higher burden of student loans and higher delinquencies may affect borrowers' access to other types of credit and the performance of other debt," the report states.