Millennials mired in student loan debt are delaying the kinds of life milestones their parents took for granted, events such as getting married, buying a home and having children, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com.
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More than half of millennials surveyed -- 56% -- with current or past student loans have delayed major life events because of their debt, according to the survey, compared with 43% of older adults.
Buying a home is the most common event people have delayed due to student debt, trailed closely by saving for retirement and buying a car. For millennials, the top events were buying a home and buying a car, followed by getting married.
“Student debt is often portrayed strictly as a millennial issue, but the truth is that Americans of all ages have put their lives on hold due to student debt,” said Steve Pounds, a Bankrate.com analyst.
“Delaying major life milestones such as buying a home or saving for retirement doesn't only affect the individual and his or her family; it also has ill effects on the overall economy,” Pounds added.
The Bankrate-commissioned survey interviewed a "nationally representative sample" of 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S.
Two-thirds of millennials – 66% -- and half of all of those surveyed said a primary reason they were buried in student loan debt is that they didn’t receive enough information or advice related to the risks attached ahead of borrowing the money.
The survey also revealed that just 28% of 18- to 29-year-olds have ever had student loan debt, compared to 41% of 30- to 49-year-olds.
The problem of escalating student loan burdens has been described as a crisis by more than a few financial analysts and politicians.
A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that outstanding student loan balances, as seen from data on credit reports, were nearly $1.2 trillion at the end of this past March, an increase of $78 billion compared to the same time a year ago. It also noted that over 11% of student loan debt is more than 90 days delinquent or in default.
Critics of the current system say federal student loans contribute to the problem by allowing colleges to hike their costs and tuitions knowing that students will get loans to pay the higher expenses. The problem comes when students can’t pay off the loans after they graduate or leave school.