The cost of college continues to expand with each passing year. With it, so does the amount of student loans being processed. It’s leading to an alarming amount of college debt that is hamstringing the life of graduates.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard the alarming student loan statistics. Americans now owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. For the class of 2016, the average borrower will owe just over $37,000, a figure that is up 6% from last year.
But those are just your basic top line college debt statistics. They are the most visible numbers but they don’t tell the whole story. There are some hidden statistics (i.e. not usually reported) that highlight what this college debt is doing to students later in life. They show that virtually every decision in life can be impacted by college debt.
How College Debt Impacts Your Life
When you apply for and receive a student loan, you really are only thinking about the present. There is an immediacy to the need because you feel like you can’t go to school unless you have the money (which of course is true). You are trying to find a solution to the question, “How am I going to pay for college right now?”
What isn’t entirely clear is how the college debt will impact you after graduation. In the here and now you can’t see how it will affect your life and your decisions later on. You figure, like I did, that you’ll get a job after college and everything will work out fine.
I ran across these statistics recently from Lendedu.com that would seem to suggest otherwise. Take a look and see if you see yourself or someone you know in them:
Almost 30% of student loan borrowers move back in with their parents after graduation
Over 40% of borrowers have delayed starting a family because of their debt
More than 60% of borrowers have delayed buying a car because of their debt
Over 70% of borrowers have delayed saving for retirement because of their debt
Around 75% of borrowers have delayed buying a home because of their debt
About 30% of borrowers have delayed getting married because of their debt
As you can see these are the lifestyle decisions behind the college debt that we don’t usually hear about up front. Loan companies are all too willing to give you access to money. What they fail to mention is how that access could impact you later.
In the above scenarios, a large segment of student loan borrowers faced challenging if not negative consequences with major life decisions because of their college debt. These statistics don’t tell us how long they delayed these decisions that are so common to adult life. But the fact they felt compelled to take these actions should give you pause.
How Has College Debt Impacted You?
Has college debt had a negative impact on your life? Do you see yourself in any of the scenarios I mentioned?
The one statistic that really stands out to me is how many are delaying the start of their family because of their college debt. My wife and I delayed having our first child for five years after marriage. However, that was for reasons unrelated to money. We wanted time to ourselves and to finish grad school. It turned out to be a great five years of relationship building.
As a father of four who are quickly growing, I know how little time there is to have and then rear children. It is one of those adult endeavors where the clock really is ticking, especially for the mother. I would not have wanted those child bearing years reduced because we were paying off our student loans. To think we would have not had the time to give birth to our third and fourth child…well, I don’t want to think about it.
It’s worth considering how student loan debt will impact you later on. It may be hard as an 18 or 19-year old to project into the future but you really must. Your financial future is not guaranteed just because you go to college and earn a degree. There are potential landmines down the road and goals you will want to consider before you sign on the dotted line.
Questions: How has college debt impacted your life? Do the statistics I mentioned surprise you? Did you think about the long-term implications of your student loan when you received it? If you have paid off your student loan, share how you did that and give others hope it can be done.