We’ve all read the stories scolding millennials for not growing up. How come you haven’t bought a home? Why aren’t you saving for retirement? And what’s the delay with tying the knot, for crying out loud?
But a quick look at my book, Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, makes it clear that one big thing holding many young people back from pursuing these crucial (and costly) milestones is record-high student debt — incurred, by the way, as an investment in the future, not as the consequence of a shopping addiction or a fine-dining habit.
Consider this: The cost of college has more than tripled since the youngest of the baby boomers headed off to college. Borrowers who graduated last year owe an average of $37,000. With education loans taking huge bites out of your income, it’s no wonder a recent poll showed a majority of young workers say they are stressed out by their student loans most or all of the time.
The good news (there really is some): There are lots of little-known ways to manage — and even eliminate — that college debt, so you can get on with your life. If you’ve done nothing with your loan repayments, you’re probably on the standard plan: 10 years of equal monthly payments. This is the way to go if you can swing it. You’ll knock out the debt relatively quickly, which means less time for interest to pile up. But lots of you are having trouble making that monthly nut — with your careers just getting underway, that’s totally understandable.