Banks' risk managers are growing more concerned about the stability of the student loan market and fear that delinquencies on most types of consumer loans will increase in the coming months, according to a FICO survey.

Respondents who thought delinquencies on student loan debt would rise increased by 19 percentage points from the third quarter to 67%, the Minneapolis-based credit scoring firm owned by Fair Isaac Corp. said on Wednesday. Outstanding student loans now exceed credit card debt in the United States, totaling an estimated $750 billion.

Additionally, 47% of respondents said they expect mortgage delinquencies to rise, slightly higher than the previous quarter. As for credit cards, 45% said they expect delinquencies to rise in this area, up almost five basis points from the third quarter.

Risk managers in the FICO survey have remained generally pessimistic despite credit card delinquency rates declining for some time and other data showing consumers have been paying down their debts across a number of loan categories.

In the last seven quarters, risk managers were most optimistic in the first quarter of 2011. At that time, between 18% and 35% of respondents, depending on the loan type, anticipated decreases in delinquencies.

Risk managers were slightly more positive about consumer underwriting. When asked about consumer credit interest rates and the approval criteria for credit and loan products, a majority of respondents predicted there would be no change in these two areas over the next six months.

Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the Professional Risk Managers' International Association has conducted a quarterly survey of bank risk professionals about their predictions for the next six months. The fourth-quarter poll surveyed 312 risk managers at U.S. banks in November.

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