Student Debt

Report: Student Debt Strikes Multiple Aspects of Millennials' Lives

Compared to baby boomers, millennials are feeling the squeeze of student debt tied to their college education in multiple arenas: deciding to marry, buy a car or house and the jobs they took out of school.

According to a recent survey by Study.com of the impact of school debt, the younger generation has felt the impact of the job or career they've chosen out of school four times harder (21.5 percent) than the older generation (5 percent). The company, which provides online resources to help college students reach their education goals, surveyed college graduates ages 21 to 35 — the "millennial" generation — and ages 50 to 65 — "baby boomers." The survey was done online during June with 200 respondents in each age sample.

Debt has also affected young people more strongly in other areas. 29.5 percent of millennials said student debt altered where they live vs. 4 percent of baby boomers. Whereas 12 percent of baby boomers said they recall college debt as influencing their decisions to make major purchases, such as a car or house, that count is 41.5 percent among the younger graduates. And while four percent of 50 to 65 year old respondents said debt affected major life decisions such as marrying and having children, the count is a much higher 27.5 percent for 21 to 35 year old respondents.

A third of respondents in the younger generation said that the cost of tuition and the prospect of taking on student debt shaped where they chose to attend college. According to the survey, 51 percent of millennial graduates left school with more than $10,000 in debt. When adjusted for inflation, only 26 percent of baby boomers graduated with an equivalent amount. Whereas 57 percent of baby boomers graduated debt-free, the count was 38 percent for millennials.

The survey's authors suggested that one antidote for what it called the "student debt crisis" might lie in better educating students about debt before they take it on. The survey found that only one in five millennials said they understood college finances well when they first began school. Another 49 percent said they understood the topic "not well" or "not well at all."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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