NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some say we’re on the brink of a new financial crisis — one that revolves around staggering student loan debt.

Congress just voted against a scheduled interest rate hike on such loans, but millions of people — many ready for retirement — are still drowning in this debt.

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Frank Freeman, 63, hasn’t taken a college course in nearly 40 years, but he’s still paying off an $80,000 student loan.

He didn’t use the money, but rather it was for his son’s college education. Because he co-signed the loan, he is now equally responsible for the debt. It’s not exactly what he had planned for his golden years.

“I thought I’d be retired, but I don’t see me retiring in the near future because of that,” Freeman said. “If I have to keep working, I’ll keep working.”

Freeman is one of millions of 60-somethings still burdened by outstanding student loans.

Congress has passed legislation forestalling a sharp increase in interest rates on college loans, but many experts believe the student loan crisis — especially among older Americans — is reaching a breaking point.

“We have students, former students across the United States, who are really in a strangle hold,” said estate planner Ann Margaret Carrozza.

Carrozza said there are things you can do now to help pay it down.

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“It’s imperative that someone who is having a little difficulty meeting their obligations contact the lender,” she said.

CBS 2’s Asa Aarons suggests people talk to their lender, adding they may be surprised at how willing they are to negotiate a better rate or new payment plan.

Carrozza also recommends consolidating your debt and — in some cases — it may make sense to refinance, take out a home equity loan or even mortgage a home that’s already paid off.

“It’s very important to get the word out and really research your options,” she said.

Not all 60-somethings are paying back their children’s loans. Many are paying back their own, having gone back to school later in life.

There is no time limit or statute of limitations on federal student loan collections, so government will seize portions of Social Security payments.


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