Mountain View, CA — Here are some things we know about Millennials: they have record amounts of student debt. They are renting or sharing, rather than buying. And they are pushing major life milestones, such as marriage, back further than ever.
While each of these statistics has myriad causes and effects, a new survey from the online education website Study.com finds that high levels of student debt has had a widespread and persistent impact on how many Millennials live their lives.
View our infographic or the rest of the survey below:
In a recent online survey of college graduates age 21-35, Study.com found that the burden of heavy student debt affected:
- What kind of job Millennials took after graduating from college – 22%
- Where they lived after graduating from college – 30%
- Relationships with their friends after college – 13%
- Major purchases like a car or a house – 42%
- Major life decisions such as marriage or having children – 28%
An additional 32% reported that the cost of tuition and the prospect of debt affected where they decided to go for college in the first place.
Study.com also conducted a similar survey with a cross-section of college-graduate Baby Boomers. As the chart below indicates, Boomers' lives were relatively unaffected by the student debt they took on.
The average student debt load itself is now markedly higher than it has been in previous generations. As the survey found, 51% of Millennial graduates left school with more than $10,000 in debt. When adjusted for inflation, only 26% of Baby Boomers graduated with an equivalent amount. Only 38% of Millennials managed to graduate debt-free, while 57% of Boomers did.
This might help explain why 39% of Millennial respondents agreed that they graduated with a lot of debt, which they felt would be hard to pay off. Only 15% of Baby Boomer respondents agreed with this statement.
Furthermore, a full 79% of Millennial respondents agree that student loans are a problem for young people in general, with only 4% of respondents disagreeing.
Part of the solution for the student debt crisis might lie in clarifying student debt terms, or better clarifying to college students what debt burdens entail. The Study.com survey found that only 20% of Millennials said they understood college finances (including tuition costs and student debt) well when they first began school. Almost half – 49% -- responded that they had understood college finances "not well" or "not well at all."
Study.com's survey was completed online between June 11 and June 24, 2015 with 200 respondents in each age sample. Respondents who were part of the "Millennials" sample ranged in age from 21 – 35, while Baby Boomers ranged from age 50-65.
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