It’s easy to focus on the headline numbers summing up student debt:
- $1.2 trillion in student loan debt is outstanding.
- 40 million Americans currently have student loans.
- 52 percent of young consumers (20–29) have student debt.
- 64 percent of college students use student loans.
- $29,000 is the average outstanding balance.
It’s hard to read these numbers and not conclude there is a student debt crisis afoot. But, a recent study by TransUnion—one of the three main credit-reporting bureaus—leads to another conclusion: The kids are doing alright.
TransUnion’s May 2015 study found having student debt is not keeping young consumers from progressing through the typical financial course of life. They are still able to finance car purchases with auto loans, take out credit cards and be approved for mortgages. And, according to TransUnion’s study, they do so at nearly the same rate as their peers who have no student loans, catching up within a couple of years of graduating.
While the TransUnion study does not contradict the fact that some—and, arguably, still too many—student loan borrowers struggle with their debt loads and have found that debt is keeping them from their plans for homeownership and new car purchases, it does imply that student debt alone is not necessarily the main cause. Job opportunities and social attitudes among the age group in general may also be at play in the postponement of major purchases for the majority.
Consumers with student debt in repayment were also found to be somewhat better about making timely payments on their debt. This is compared with those young consumers who lacked student loans.
Success seems to be associated with deciding early in your college career which debt program to use, how much to borrow and then selecting among the best options regarding repayment at graduation.
Our NFCC® Certified Consumer Credit Counselors have the know-how to help you make these decisions, whether you are in the borrowing or repayment phase. We help you keep your repayment plan manageable, so it’s less likely to cause you to cancel, let alone postpone, the financial path you aspire to for your early adulthood.