It’s been a long summer for those with student loan debt. At the end of June, Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debts. To put that into perspective, that’s 150% higher than what they owed a decade ago. The increase coincides with a historically high number of young adults in the U.S. attending college and the higher costs of a post-secondary education.
According to data provide by Pew Research Center, 40% of adults under the age of 30 have student loan debt. Of that group, of those aged 18 to 29, more than a third (37%) say they have outstanding student loans for their education. Looking at young adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the share of outstanding debt soars to 53%.
As expected, student loan debt is less common in older age brackets. Nearly one-quarter (22%) of adults ages 30 to 44 have student loan debt, as do four percent of those 45 years of age or older.
As one would expect, the amount owed varies, especially by degree. The median borrower with outstanding student loan debt owed $17,000 in 2016. That amount varied widely, though; 25% owed $7,000 or less, while another quarter owed $43,000 or more.
Those with less than a bachelor’s degree owed a median of $10,000, while those with a bachelor’s degree owed a median of $25,000. Those with a postgraduate degree owed a median of $45,000. Only seven percent had student loan debt of at least $100,000. Those with a postgraduate degree were most likely to owe more than $100,000.
Unfortunately, this debt is holding some back from getting ahead as they enter what should be the beginning of their prime earning years. Data shows that college graduates with student loans are almost twice as likely to have a second job and say they are struggling financially.
More than one-fifth (21%) of employed adults ages 25 to 39 with at least a bachelor’s degree and outstanding student loan debt have more than one job. Those without student loan debts (11%) are half as likely to have a second job.
As expected, those with student loans are less optimistic about their financial situation than those who do not have outstanding student loan debt. Just 27% of young college graduates with student loans say they are living comfortably, compared to 45% of college grades of a similar age that do not have student loan debt.
In addition to being less optimistic about their finances, those with student loan debt are less upbeat when it comes to the value of their degree. 51% of those aged 25 to 39 with at least a bachelor’s degree and student loan debt say the lifetime financial benefits of their degree outweigh the costs. By comparison, about 70% of college graduates without student loan debt say the same.
“5 Facts About Student Loans,” Pew Research Center, August 24, 2017.