Nightly News | August 25, 2013
>>> to college students about his plan to make college more affordable. many parents are struggling to pay off their own loans.
>> as i was saying.
>> reporter: meet the rose family. two generations struggling with student loan debt. together they own $136,000. at 51 they hoped to put away money for retirement. instead --
>> about 50% of my paycheck goes towards my student loan debt. that's quite a bit.
>> reporter: charlene is paying off her own $51,000 after getting a master's. and she and her husband, a veteran, pay much of their children's college debt too. ricky owes 25,000 on loans and paying some of his tuition to help mom.
>> i'm doing temp work to have extra money coming in.
>> reporter: they're part of a group of americas 50 to 59 years old.
>> we used to think of student loans as temporary. but for some, they're becoming a lifetime or multi-generational burden. melissa is a credit counselor who helps charlene manage it all.
>> 30% of my clients are in that bracket, 50 or older. a lot of them just say, i'm going to die before i pay this off.
>> reporter: some say all that debt is still worth it.
>> a return on investment to higher education is about the greatest return an individual can secure. it is the best way to get a job, keep a job, or get a better job.
>> her tuition is going to go up.
>> whatever sacrifices i have to make for them to go, i'm willing. and they're willing to help.
>> reporter: after all, a mother's love knows no bounds. nbc news, washington, d.c.