April 17, 2018 / 3:09 PM / 3 months ago

Debt could dissuade students, hurt U.S. economy: Fed official

(Reuters) - Rising debt levels could dissuade potential students from pursuing education and from buying homes and other investments, harming the overall U.S. economy, a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker called the labor market “fairly tight” in a speech that focused on student loans, which stood at $1.34 trillion a year ago with what the Fed at the time called “stubbornly high” delinquency rates.

“I am concerned that the looming shadow of student debt, coupled with increasing uncertainty about loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment, may dissuade some potential students, particularly those from low- and middle-income families, from going to college,” Harker said in prepared remarks.

“If the ability of our younger generations to participate in the economy is adversely affected, so, overall, is our economy,” he added at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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