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September 26, 2013 4:38 PM Life in the Red: the Future of College Graduates

By Daniel Luzer

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According to a new report by American Student Assistance debt plays a very important role in Americans lives. Some 66 percent of college graduates now have student loan debt. The average debt is about $27,000.

And it’s impacting how young people make decisions. As the paper puts it:

Student loans were created to be an engine for social mobility, but they are, in fact, limiting young people’s ability to achieve financial success:
  • 27% of respondents to ASA’s survey said that they found it difficult to buy daily necessities because of their student loans;
  • 63% said their debt affected their ability to make larger purchase such as a car;
  • 73% said they have put off saving for retirement or other investments; and
  • The vast majority—75% indicated that student loan debt affected their decision or ability to purchase a home.
Survey respondents indicated that in addition to limiting their ability to make major purchases, student loan debtals impacts their important life decisions:
  • 30% responded that their student loan debt was the deciding factor, or had considerable impact, on their choice of career field;
  • 47% indicated it was the deciding factor, or had considerable impact, on their decision or ability to start a small business;
  • 29% indicated that they have put off marriage as a result of their student loans;
  • 43% said that student debt has delayed their decision to start a family.

The solution to problems like these remains sort of remote. As even the paper puts it “there is unlikely to be a seismic shift in the way higher education is funded,” and suggests mild and ambiguous reforms like “control continuously escalating tuition and fees,” “keep federal student loan interest rates low,” and “prepare students to be smarter borrowers.”

Things like these might help a little, but the reality is that, without any changes in how America pays for college, difficulty buying daily necessities, later marriages and families, and limited homeownership may just be the future for college graduates in this country.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

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