By Mac Slavo
Student loan debt has reached record level highs and its impacts are being felt throughout the entire economy. This crisis will be hard on those deeply indebted, but it is also a drag on the nation’s economy as a whole.
For an entire generation of Americans, who were told they would amount to nothing without a fancy piece of paper that would cost them tens of thousands of dollars (or more in some cases), student debt is nothing new. According to NBC News, many so-called Millennials desire to attend the best possible school. Couple that with the demands for graduate degrees and skyrocketing college costs, student loans may be fundamentally altering the economy.
A recent analysis from the staff at the Federal Reserve found that the average student loan debt held by those in the 24- to 32-year-old age group doubled from $5,000 to $10,000 between 2005 and 2014. In that same report, the Fed also found that home ownership fell nine percentage points in that same time period for those in that age group.
Student loan debt has already affected the housing market, and because of the amount, most are required to pay back, more and more debt continues to pile up for those already maxed out. And it almost always begins with student loans.
On average, Millennials, ages 18 to 34, carry about $36,000 in debt, according to a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual Life. That looks very similar to the numbers for Generation X, who carry $39,000 in debt on average, and Baby Boomers who hold about $36,000 in debt, according to the study. –NBC News
However, once you break that down, you can see the strain that student loan debt has put on Millennials.
The largest source of debt for Gen Xers and Baby Boomers is their mortgages, which clock in at 32 percent and 25 percent respectively for those age groups. The biggest source of debt for Millennials? Personal education loans at 21 percent. –NBC News
Rather than saving and putting a down payment on a house, Millennials have chosen to borrow money for education. That easy money they borrowed is to blame for the skyrocketing costs of college as well. According to the financial guru Dave Ramsey, far too many people struggling to pay on their student loans while their future hangs in the balance. It’s a familiar problem that’s only getting worse. America’s total student loan debt is now nearly $1.5 trillion. On average, students take 10-20 years to pay back their student loans.