USA Today: Student Loan Debt Is Millennials Ball and Chain

Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 07:58 AM

By Michelle Smith

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Many millennials are tethered to student loan debt so massive it is preventing them from becoming fully independent young adults, reports USA Today.

Student loan debt has grown to over $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and FinAid estimates the load is increasing at a rate of about $2,853.88 per second, Fox Business Network reports.

A growing number of people in their 20s and early 30s went to college with hopes of improving the quality of their lives. But what they have found after leaving school was a weak job market and the shocking reality that the costs of higher education are preventing them from getting married, having babies and buying homes.

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Homeownership among individuals who are paying off student loans is 36 percent lower than among their peers who have no student debt, research from One Wisconsin Institute shows, according to the Los Angeles Times.

More young adults are living with their parents and in-laws, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, suspects that this trend could have negative implications for the broader economy.

"The more homes that are built, the more things that are purchased to put in those homes," Zandi tells USA Today. "If you don't have households forming, the economy is going to struggle."

More worrying for many experts is that millennials' struggles with student loan debt appear to be a long-term problem. The fear is that decision to go to college may negatively affect their entire lives — and beyond.

"You could have generations that never get in the economic mainstream," Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, tells USA Today.

"If you never get into the whole US economic system because you've been held back by too much early debt ... we could have a lot of people who just never really come anywhere near their potential," he adds.

The One Wisconsin Institute found that the average pay-off time for student loan debt is 21 years. The range varies from 17 years for people who attended but didn't get a degree to 23 years for those with graduate degrees.

These long pay-off times mean many millennials will be making payments on their own student loans when their children enroll in college, explains Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors.com, which operates a network of websites about planning and paying for college.

He warns of the probability that student loan indebtedness will become a cycle. Millennials will be unable to save to educate the next generation, so those kids will be forced to take loans and graduate with even more debt, according to USA Today.

While so many are already struggling to keep up, many others are now facing a fresh price hike.

As of July 1, interest rates on government-backed student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent because a deal could not be reached in Washington to prevent the increase.

Congressional leaders claim it is not too late because they may be able reach an agreement after this week's recess. If not, 7 million students expected to take out new subsidized Stafford loans this year could be stuck with thousands of dollars more in interest costs, Reuters says.

Editor's Note: How to Pay Zero Taxes . . . Legally

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