(Bloomberg) -- Older borrowers will be among the hardest hit when student-loan payments resume for more than 40 million Americans after a pandemic freeze, according to research by Fidelity Investments Inc.

When payments resume at the beginning of February after a 22-month hiatus, Baby Boomers with student debt will have to repay $620 monthly, or about $7,400 a year, on average, according to Fidelity estimates.

That compares with an overall average of $515 a month, Fidelity data show. Baby Boomers, who are age 57 to 76, typically have a larger loan balance and pay higher interest rates. 

Fidelity’s $515 monthly average is higher than estimates from education data providers, which typically evaluate the cost at about $390, based on the total number of borrowers and the outstanding student-debt burden in the country.

Fidelity’s analysis is based on 60,000 users with over 210,000 loans who shared their student-loan information with the financial-services company as of Sept. 30. These borrowers, who averaged almost three student loans each, were seeking strategies for repayment, meaning they likely carried higher debt levels.

The pause on federal student debt at the onset of the coronavirus crisis suspended payments, set a 0% interest rate and stopped collection on defaulted loans. The moratorium is one of the last major Covid-19 relief programs still in place after emergency unemployment benefits and a ban on rent eviction were phased out in recent months. 

The return of student-loan bills on Feb. 1 will strain budgets for millions, especially at a time when inflation is crimping the spending power of low-income households.

The burden is particularly heavy for those working in private health care and higher education, Fidelity data show. These industries also have been among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 health crisis, leading to burnouts, early retirements and people changing careers.

 

 

 

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