Most people attend college and university for a similar reason. Potential students want to prepare for a career that will improve their future and positively impact the world.
However, new evidence shows that attending college – and the subsequent student loan debt that comes with – is making graduates ditch their dreams.
Drowning in debt
More than half of borrowers who owe $55,000 or more in student debt say they took a job outside of their field, according to new research by SavingforCollege.com. This is almost double the amount of those with no student loan debt (29% of survey participants) who took a non-degree related job.
Many other studies and research point to a similar phenomenon.
For example, 30% of respondents agreed that “my need to pay student loan debt hampered/is hampering my ability to further my career,” according to a study by American Student Assistance. Additionally, 17% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement “My need to pay student loan debt hampered/is hampering my ability to further my career.”
Rising higher education costs
The amount of graduates who are seeking any type of employment after school is directly linked to two factors. The first factor is the rising cost of higher education in the United States. The second factor is the subsequent student loan debt that comes attached to a pricey college education.
“A four-year stint at a private American university today—for example, Harvard, Stanford, or Yale—costs more than a quarter-million dollars, including tuition, lodging, and books,” writes Ephrat Livni for Quartz. “Public universities may be more affordable, but the outlay for an education still requires funding assistance. University of California schools, for example, costs about $12,500 a year just for tuition and fees for a full-time state resident. Assuming students stay close to home and commute, that still amounts to $50,000 for an undergraduate degree. Given this the prohibitive pricing, many students have to borrow this money.”
Simply put? When graduating with so much student loan debt, new workers don’t have the option to be choosy about employment. New workers need a job – any job – that will allow them to pay down their monthly student loan payment.
Deferring other dreams
It’s important to note that the student loan debt crisis is not only affecting employment choices post-graduation. An alarming amount of borrowers also report putting off other dreams in order to deal with their debt. Some of the most common life goals that are deferred for those with student loan debt?
Buying a home
Buying a car
Donating to charities or philanthropic causes
According to “Buried in Debt,” a national survey report on the state of student loan borrowers in 2018, student loan debt affected respondents in the following ways:
19% have delayed getting married due to student debt
26% have put off having children
56% have not been able to buy a home
42% have not been able to purchase a car
50% have not been able to contribute to a charity
Researchers also worry that student loan debt will continue to hurt individuals and the overall U.S. economy.