"We're seeing a rise in the number of people with two generations of debt: People who are paying for their children's education, but also paying off their old student loans," said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which researches the rising costs of higher education.
Anderson, who lives in Watsonville, Ca. fears for her future, when there's the likelihood of her social security payments being garnished.
Her fears aren't unfounded. American Student Assistance, a nonprofit that counsels people with student debt problems, saidthat over the past year it has worked with 1,000 Americans who have had their social security payments garnished to pay for old student debt. That's a sharp increase from just 200 people in the previous year.
Anderson's loans are driven from a decision late in life to earn two degrees and paying for them with loans totaling $65,000 from the government and various financial firms.
She earned her bachelor's degree at 37 and a master's degree at 44, both in human resources. While Anderson has never regretted the decision to get higher education, the costs have been severe.
After graduation, Anderson was paying six checks a month to Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo(WFC) and other financial firms. So she decided to consolidate all her loans into one big loan with the Department of Education at the prevailing 8.25% rate.
Next April, Anderson won't be able to do that anymore and will have to make payments of $699 a month until she is 81 years old. She worries about how she will make ends meet.
Anderson brings home $3,400 a month from her job in business operations at the University of California in Santa Cruz. She has a $2,200 mortgage payment and has to live on what's left, and earning some extra income by finding odd jobs on Craig's List.
"I will be working for as long as I'm employable. I will never be able to retire," said Anderson.