CHICAGO (5/7/10)--Private student loan delinquency--the ratio of student loans 90 days or more past due--decreased about 4.9% in the fourth quarter, according to an analysis of student loan trends by consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion. That figure is down from a high of 6.34% in third quarter 2009. The quarterly decrease represents a reversal of a five-quarter trend that began in second quarter 2008 (Marketwire via Comtex April 27). Thirty-day student loan delinquency rates experienced a 6.6% drop, down from a high of 8.06% in the third quarter. However, year-over-year for the fourth quarter, the 30- and 90-day delinquency rates are up from 2008 (10.4% and 11.67%, respectively) and from 2007 (16.93% and 15.52%, respectively). The average national private student loan debt per loan on active accounts for the quarter was $17,754. The average account balance for delinquent student loan accounts 90 days or more past due was $13,033. States with the highest volume of new private student loans during the quarter were California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Minnesota, representing 38% of all new loans for the country. The analysis is based on information culled from TransUnion’s U.S. consumer credit database and proprietary analytic capabilities focused on student lending. Of the student loans contained in the database, roughly 20% are estimated to be private loans, also known as “alternative” loans, and 80% are estimated to be federal or government-backed loans--Stafford, Perkins, PLUS and GradPLUS. The highest private student loan delinquency rates, defined as 90 days or more past due, were in Florida (9.44%), Mississippi (9.09%) and Tennessee (9.07%). The lowest delinquency rates were found in Vermont (3.28%), New Hampshire (3.60%) and North Dakota (3.75%). Areas showing the greatest percentage drop in delinquency from the previous quarter were Mississippi (14.45%), Alabama (12.41%) and Kentucky (10.84 %). While the U.S. experienced an 11.67% increase in private student loan 90-day delinquency from the previous year, state-level increases are varied. For example, areas showing the greatest percentage increase were, for low student loan volume states, Vermont (29.80%) and Idaho (24.66%). For higher loan volume states, Illinois (20.32%) and Massachusetts (21.75%) ranked at the top. Of the 50 states, only three showed a decrease year over year: Alabama (0.50%), Michigan (0.56%) and Louisiana (4.47 %). A number of credit unions have recently entered the private student lending market. CUNA Strategic Services has an alliance with one such loan provider, Fynanz. For more information, use the link.