Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Student Debt Is Causing New Graduates to Delay Making Major Life Moves

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Student Debt Is Causing New Graduates to Delay Making Major Life Moves

Article excerpt

Student debt is taking a staggering toll on new graduates, to the point where many feel their lives are "hung up" and they can't make major moves such as getting married, buying a house or pursuing more education, a new survey states.

"Rather than opening up pathways to success, in some cases, these big education bills are having the reverse effect," said Chris Duchesne, vice president at EdAssist, a company that helps businesses with their tuition assistance programs.

The survey--titled "Student Loan Debt: Who's Paying the Price?"--revealed a number of troubling statistics about the practical ways that student loans are impacting college graduates in their everyday lives.

For instance, the survey found that:

* 49 percent said they would delay engagement or marriage because of their own debt.

* 33 percent said they would be reluctant to marry someone who was also repaying loans.

* 50 percent said they have been held back from buying a house.

* 78 percent agree that student loans have impacted their ability to save for retirement.

* 64 percent said their current debt would keep them from pursuing a new degree.

Scholars differ over the extent to which the survey accurately portrays the plight of student loan borrowers.

"You have to take all of this with a grain of salt," said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Carnevale noted that the survey is based on the "self-reported feelings of debt-holders, which is not the most reliable source of information on this question. Other research that has compared the behavior of debt-holders and those without debt contradicts the findings of this survey. College graduates are more likely to buy homes and get married than people with less education.

"So if you want to get married or own a home, going to college is a good idea," he said. "Not going to college means you're unlikely to have access to a job that pays a living wage and won't be able to afford to buy a home."

Carnevale said, generally, the differences in home ownership rates between college graduates with and without student loan debt have been small.

"In fact, debt-holders are slightly more likely to own homes than people without student loan debt," Carnevale related.

Barbara O'Neill, a professor and specialist in financial resource management at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, had a different take.

"It's having a major impact not just on the students themselves, but also on the rest of society," O'Neill said of student debt in general.

"Some of these impacts are gonna show up right away and some of them are gonna show up 20,30 years down the line. …

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