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Student Loans Will Haunt You to the Grave


We’ve devoted considerable space on this blog documenting the ways in which student debt prevents young people from beginning their lives as adults. A study from Demos, for example, finds that among college graduates, those without student debt are more likely to own a home and enjoy lower interest rates on their mortgages. But the effects of debt can also linger into older adulthood, even when the loans are paid off: the study found that debt-free grads build up a hefty $208 thousand more in wealth over the course of their lifetime. Time breaks down the reasons why:

The Demos report assumes a two-headed household, collectively carrying $53,200 in student loan debt. Servicing that debt chews up 7.5% of their income during the life of the loan, siphoning funds from savings and investment opportunities. These borrowers are more limited in their ability to build home equity and retirement savings as quickly as their debt-free counterparts.

Over time, the gap between the two widens. “Nearly two-thirds of this loss ($134,000) comes from the lower retirement savings of the indebted household, while more than one-third ($70,000) comes from lower accumulated home equity,” the group says.

This is more evidence, as if any was needed, that American higher ed is doing young people a great disservice. Colleges should be preparing students for life as an adult by giving them the skills they need to thrive in the workforce. While some programs succeed in this task, many do not, and they still saddle students with debt that will dog them for much of their lives.

[Ball and chain image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Thirdsyphon

    I think we’d have been better off, in the long run, leaving this whole area to the market. Let the banks decide what degrees they want to finance, and how much interest to charge for it, and if it doesn’t work out, let students have the right to file for bankruptcy just like everyone else (and let the banks factor that risk in when they’re setting their interest rates).

  • Diggsc

    As Obama supporters through-and-through, there has never been a generation that so stunningly deserved to be economically punished. They cheered for, volunteered for, then voted for the guy who promised to “fundamentally change” the greatest economic engine the world has known. They fainted when they got near the guy who promised to “fundamentally change” the economic system that has brought more people out of poverty, that has built a larger middle class, that has given more people a chance to live healthy, long lives, than any other economic system. They deserve every single economic disaster they face, and that includes a lifelong albatross around their neck, since they helped put in office the guy who has hung Obamacare around ours. My sympathy meter for these morons is still on zero.

  • megapotamus

    In the 90s I worked in the financial aid office of a state university. Guaranteed student loans were 8% with direct loans, the Perkins program, at 5%. The Perkins, though a lower rate was the devil for sure as the creditor had the power of God Almighty to collect that debt and didn’t mind mentioning it in their mailers. It took ten-odd years and a couple late payments here and there but finally I did pay off my undergrad and half of law school. The total was $18k, quite low considering it included a good bit of grad school. But I did get a job in my field, more or less, as a law librarian. If I had not been able to land such, as a sizeable plurality seems not to today, I would have been stuck and stuck hard. Now millions are in that pickle and the only way out is the same as it ever was: overall growth. New grads having 7.5% of their income (pre-tax?) attached with NO options to bankruptcy or other escape, except a totally underground existence, will NOT produce anything like the necessary wealth. Nope. Not a chance.

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