Charged-off and severely delinquent student loans jumped 36% to $3 billion, according to Equifax's latest National Consumer Credit Trends report.
The number of student loans outstanding was up 13% while the total outstanding debt increased 14% to $852.7 billion from $746.3 billion a year ago, according to the Equifax report.
"Driven heavily by economic factors, including unemployed or under-employed consumers going back to school along with the rising cost of tuition, student lending has demonstrated consistent, year-over-year growth," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work options once people graduate or quit their programs, leading to a steady rise in delinquencies and loan write-offs."
In other loan classes, seriously delinquent home loans dropped by double digits, according to the same report. Loans are generally considered seriously delinquent when a borrower has not paid for 90 days past the due date.
- Severely delinquent balances on home equity lines of credit fell 28% from February 2012 to February 2013, to $10 billion from $14 billion.
- Severely delinquent balances on home equity loans declined 25% to $5 billion from $6.6 billion.
- Severely delinquent balances on first mortgages dropped 23%, to $375 billion from $490 billion.
Auto lending also is rebounding, the Equifax report revealed, with total balances up to $789 billion, a 50-month high.