Here’s an indication of how burdensome student loans have become : About one-third of millennials say they would have been better off working, instead of going to college and paying tuition.
That’s a according to a new Wells Fargo study which surveyed 1,414 millennials between the ages of 22 and 32. More than half of them financed their education through student loans, and many say the if they had $10,000 the “first thing” they’d do is pay down their student loan or credit card debt.
That’s no surprise when you consider student borrowing topped the $100 billion threshold for the first time in 2010, and total outstanding loans exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2011. Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in the U.S. which stands at about $798 billion.
Delinquencies are also on the rise. The number of borrowers who are at least 90 days late on student loan payments has jumped from 8.5% in 2011 to 11.7% today, according to a study by the New York Federal Reserve.
The problem sometimes is that not all college educations are worth their cost since they can’t guarantee a high-paying job to help pay off that student debt. A report from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says the rising student debt problem can have a bad impact on the economy. Even in the best of economic times when jobs are plentiful, young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying life-cycle events such as buying a car, purchasing a home, getting married and having children.
The other problem on student debt is a lack of financial education. The first major financial decision many students are making is with their college loans. It’s a major decision and often times there’s been little financial education, if any, that’s been taught. The Wells Fargo survey found that 79% of millennials think personal finance should be taught in high school; basic investing, how to save for retirement and how loans work were the top three topics they “wished” they’d learned more about.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found student debt has also affected home ownership in the country. Census data reveals that nearly 6 million Americans ages 25 to 34 lived with their parents in 2011, a sharp increase from 4.7 million in 2007.
The CFPB cited The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) saying higher student debt burdens “impair the ability of recent college graduates to qualify for a loan.” According to NAHB, high student loan debt has an impact on consumers’ debt-to-income (DTI) ratio– an important metric for decisions about creditworthiness in mortgage origination.
It’s no wonder then that more than half (54%) of millennials from the Wells survey say debt is their biggest financial concern with 42% calling it “overwhelming.”