Millennials Are Facing $1 Trillion in Student Loan Debt
It’s official. Young Americans are drowning in student loan debt. At the end of 2018, 18-29 year-olds find themselves exceeding a debt of $1 trillion and, since nearly 1 million student borrowers end up defaulting each year, we know that half of that is not being repaid (Yahoo Finance). Even more devastating, it’s been more than a decade since Americans have faced debt levels this high, Bloomberg reports.
The last time debt levels reached this high for this age bracket was in 2007.
From the money ($1,005,000,000,000) owed by 18-29 year-olds, student loans make up majority of this debt, followed by mortgage debt. However, mortgage debt is increasing at a far slower rate than student loan debt. Nevertheless, it seems as though millennials are renting homes or apartments for longer durations of time than previous generations as they wait to purchase their own home. Even more troubling, missing student loan payments will complicate the prospect of future mortgages due to the damage done to their credit profile.
While mortgage debt increases by 3.2%, student loan debts have grown up to 102% higher. Both Yahoo Finance and Business Insider report that at this rate, approximately 40% of outstanding debts are likely to default by 2023. This is an astronomically high number, especially when we consider that mortgage defaults at the height of the financial crisis only reached 11.5%.
Saving versus spending money
A recent survey at the University of Michigan found that young adults under 35 years-old were more cautious with their spending habits than previous generations. We can applaud millennials for their self-controlled spending habits and discipline in controlling their debt. However, since millennials represent $200 million of spending power, and are expected to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in the US with spending power, this undoubtedly and, negatively, will affect America’s economic growth.
Student loan debt is the second-highest consumer debt segment.
The New York Post reports that “nearly one in every two millennials in New York state owes student loan debt.” Due to their economic environment conditions and increased cost of living, millennials can be found picking up side jobs in order to pay bills. Therefore, millennials are understandably more cautious with their spending money. This phenomenon is even more prominent as young adults graduate with weak job prospects and high educational debt. Additionally, some college graduates are delaying marriage plans in order to pay off their loans.
Grants versus loans
Grants and scholarships are typically not repaid. However, loans are commonly arranged through colleges. They send student applicants award letters when they are accepted to college, and vary widely in how they explain college cost payments.
After analyzing 11,000 award letters (by the New America Foundation), it was discovered that approximately one-third did not clearly define grants and scholarships from debt. Many of which didn’t even use the word “loan” but rather “award”. This may be related to why Brookings earlier study discovered that 28% of first year student borrowers weren’t aware that they had federal loans. And majority of student loans are federal loans.