By Bob Hildreth

I went to a great AARP meeting in D.C. on Monday on Student Loan Debt Innovation. There were about 30 people in attendance from organizations as diverse as the American Teachers Federation, American Progress, The Education Trust, DEMOS, and Seth Frotman, former student loan watchdog at thflecting the young age of participants, I was just about the only member of the AARP there! There were no colleges or college representatives in attendance.

AARP is justly concerned about the millions over 60 years of age still with student debt. The number of people 60 and older with student loan debt quadrupled from 700,000 to 2.8 million between 2005 and 2015, threatening financial stability for those heading into retirement. A big reason is the growth ofParent Plus loans and parent collateralized loans, where parents assume financial obligations for their children. It was agreed that transparency is a big problem. Financial aid award letters sometimes list Parent Plus loans as financial aid. Attendees agreed that these loans are easy to get but hard to repay. There was also concerns over predatory practices of private financial institutions in getting parents to cosign student loans.

These concerns don’t come without data to back them up. In a recent poll the AARP conducted in partnership with the Association of Young Americans(AYA), the views about college across generations is grim. The majority of respondents no longer saw the cost of college worth the degree: with 61 percent of Millennials, 62 percent of Generation X, and 53 percent of Baby Boomers sharing the same view.

Much of the discussion centered on reforms to the existing student loan repayment programs with special emphasis on income-based programs. Partial fixes rather than a comprehensive solution were discussed. Each and every organization is dedicated to help solve this massive problem. Thanks to the AARP for bringing us together to discuss what weighs heavy on now three generations.