Young Americans Struggle to Keep Their Heads Above Water as Financial Burdens Pull Them Down

debtspending3The broke college student is a quintessential archetype of American life. He or she is the young adult who’s still in school, or who’s recently entered the workforce. While many know that this individual is rather far down the economic ladder — having not yet had the time to pull him or herself up yet — the broke college student is a lot worse off financially than most people know.

Why? How?

Young adults have a lot of trouble getting ahead financially nowadays, because they’re far behind before they’re even able to enter the workforce. About 94% of college students graduate with debt, which is usually upwards of $20,000. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, the average student who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges had $28,400 in debt per borrower. Consequently, about one out of five young adults ages 18 to 24 qualify themselves as being in “debt hardship,” and why shouldn’t they? According to, one in four millennials has more debt than he or she does savings.

The Consequences.

Because young adults are struggling under the weight of their financial burden, they’re doing everything they can just to keep their heads above water. About half of millennials need to use their credit card to pay for basic necessities, such as food and utilities. In 2014, more than 25% of young Americans had late payments or had to deal with bill collectors. Worse, young Americans ages 25 to 34 have the second highest rate of bankruptcy.

Young adults are financially cynical, and for good reason. A recent survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that seven out of 10 young adults define financial stability as being able to pay all of their bills each month. In other words, the vast majority of young adults are aiming to just make ends meet, and who could blame them?

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