Students optimistic about the future, despite expecting less cash

College students graduating

Younger people, like recent college graduates, are optimistic about their future, even though they expect to not be as well off as their parents. Photo Credit: apermanentwreck/

People of college student age are expecting to be less wealthy than their parents but more satisfied with life, according to a recent survey. An Associated Press survey of people ages 18 to 24 revealed that younger people, especially those saddled with higher amounts of student debt, expect a lower quality of life than their parents.

Younger generation expects less money, more happiness

The college age set is less optimistic about how much money the future may bring but is confident that the long term course of their lives won’t be doom and gloom, according to MSNBC. A poll conducted by the Associated Press and Viacom of 18- to 24-year-old people found that 40 percent of survey subjects thought that traditional goals like raising a family and purchasing a home would be more difficult than it was for their parents. About 25 percent believed that life would be easier for them than their parents. About 90 percent of the survey subjects believed they would eventually find a career they find fulfilling.

Student debt increases the burden

The people in the AP survey indicated that they believed making a living would be harder because of increased costs. Among costs steadily increasing for people in that age group is student debt. The average college graduate has about $24,000 in loan debt, according to the New York Times, which at an interest rate of 6.8 percent demands a payment of $276 per month, and student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. The Department of Education reports that 65.6 percent of all undergraduates from 2007 to 2008 received some sort of financial aid, and 38.5 percent of all undergraduates had student loans of some sort. The Department of Education found that 30 percent of all undergraduates took out subsidized Stafford loans and 22 percent borrowed non-subsidized Stafford loans.

Investment that does pay off

The average wage earner with a college degree grosses about $53,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but few people earn that much upon graduation. A college degree is not a guarantee of immediately falling into a healthy income, but it increases the likelihood that a person will earn a solid middle class income during their lifetime. People with college degrees also tend to have lower rates of unemployment; Americans with bachelor’s degrees had a 4 percent lower rate of unemployment than those with only a high school diploma in 2009. However, the cost of the security that a college diploma offers is going up.



Department of Education

New York Times

Bureau of Labor Statistics



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