(By Balachander) Student loan debt has substantially increased over the past decade, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The data showed that American consumers cut back on other forms of credit, such as mortgages and credit cards in the wake of the financial crisis, while high unemployment rate contributed to rise in college enrollments.
In the first three months of 2012, student loans stood at $904 billion, more than triple from $241 billion in the same period a decade ago.
Loans rose 3.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 and up 8 percent in the same period of last year.
"It remains the only form of consumer debt to substantially increase since the peak of household debt in late 2008," said Donghoon Lee, senior economist at the New York Fed.
Since the peak in household debt in the third quarter of 2008, student loan debt has increased by $293 billion, while other forms of debt fell a combined $1.53 trillion, the New York Fed said.
Total consumer debt dropped 0.9 percent to $11.44 trillion in the first quarter, compared with the final three months of 2011.
Outstanding student loan debt surpassed credit card debt as the second highest form of consumer debt in the second quarter of 2010, the report showed.
In addition, 90+ day delinquency rates for student loans steadily increased to its current level of 8.69 percent from 6.13 percent a decade ago. Mortgage balances declined 1.0 percent, the regional Fed bank said.