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College graduates value their degrees even though they can’t afford to live on their own.

3 minute read

Driving yourself $10,000 in student loan debt for a college degree is still valuable to millennials. Unfortunately, can’t use those degrees to buy their own homes.

College tuition has risen at a rate faster than financial aid can keep up with over the past few years, and still hasn’t caught up with the spikes of the recession. More and more college students are forced into taking out student loans to complete their degrees. And they’re not getting the jobs they need to juggle loans and living arrangements.

A new survey from investing company TD Ameritrade says that most millennials feel their college degrees are worth the investment they made, even they’re moving back in with their parents.

millennial income

Average earnings don’t keep pace

TD Ameritrade’s study found young millennials expect to make about $26,575 a year at their first job out of college, and actually end up pretty close to that. It’s not enough for many to manage both student loans and paying rent, much less buying a home.

The average student loan debt is $37,000 per graduate entering the workforce, and the stress of paying it back drives millennials a little nuts. One in 20 think about money on an hourly basis and a lot of that time they’re stressing about their debt.

After graduation, older and wiser, these younger millennials wish they could go back in time to give their college selves advice. “Work to earn money while in college” was the number one piece of advice grads would give to their 18-year-old selves.

Which would have been good to know, since any money saved could’ve gone toward borrowing less, paying down those student loans quicker, or building a down payment on their own home.

Fortunately, things do get better. By age 30, their earning expectations are below the reality. They expect to be making about $40,456 and average about $44,090 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 Moving home could be good

Contrary to articles out there bashing millennials for being immature and living with their parents later in life, it’s not the worst financial move they could make. They’re not doing it by choice, they’re doing it because it’s practical.

Almost 70 percent of renters can’t afford to put a down payment on a home of their own. The chance to live rent-free, or at a lower rate at least, can benefit younger people while finding the first stable job in their career. Taking the opportunity to save up a decent amount of money to put down on a house instead of getting stuck in the cycle of rising rents makes some sense, even if it’s embarrassing.

“With home values close to record highs, it’s no surprise renters are concerned about coming up with enough money to buy a home,” says Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. “Rising rents are also a factor. It’s extremely difficult to save when you’re paying record-high rents.”

That’s especially true if you still haven’t found the job that is going to support you in your 30-year-mortgage, and if you may end up relocating in the near future anyway. Most millennials will look for another job in their field within the first five years of their career. Moving back home may not be the worst thing in the world.

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye is a certified debt management professional. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Florida Atlantic University’s newspaper, the University Press. He was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. He now covers personal finance topics for uncovering trends that help readers deal with the financial world. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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