As Millennials (and their slightly older siblings, the Xennials) already could have told you: The student loan crisis in the U.S. is completely out of control. As kids, these groups were always told that you need to get a college education to succeed. Of course, no one expected there to be a huge financial recession, causing the job pool to dry up for the better part of a decade. Suddenly, the rhetoric changed and now you need a master’s degree to succeed. And when that fails, you end up with more and more young PhD candidates who sometimes seem to just stay in school because they don’t know what else to do.
Not that we're saying parents were wrong to tell them to go to college. The college-educated Millennial makes an average of $17,500 more annually more than peers with just a high school diploma or equivalency. (If they can find work, that is.) The tradeoff, however, is that so many young people are beginning adulthood crippled with debt, that they begin to delay other life goals. Getting married, starting a family, and owning a home takes a backseat to paying off interest on education that may not even be making up for it.
Student loans have hit an all-time high of $1.2 trillion (yes, that’s “trillion” with a “T”), with a personal average of $29,400. Many graduates are exiting school already almost 30 grand in the hole. Not exactly an ideal position to start saving for the future. And thinking of marriage? It’s barely even affordable to start dating! Not only that, but what it comes to owing money, being married is actually more of a burden than a blessing. Married students are less likely to receive financial assistance when applying to school, and loan payment assistance after graduation, as their incomes are merged together. They’re also stuck between a rock and hard place when filing tax returns. They can’t claim student loans if they file separately. If they file jointly for an interest deduction, then neither can be claimed as a dependent.
School and finances are one of the major reasons that young people are getting married later than ever before. More than half of America is single, and the average age of marriage has gone from 20 for women and 23 for men, to 27 for women and 29 for men. Which biologically means they’re going to have to start right away if they still plan on having babies. The fact that this generation is producing fewer children is predicted to create even greater financial difficulties in the coming decades. But we suppose that just one of many problems that we’ll leave for the next generation to figure out. Sorry, kids!
[Pic via Flickr - Jenifer Corrêa]