Recent college graduates are deeper in debt than people thought.
Yet, according to the findings of a brand new survey by Accounting Principals, recent grads are carrying closer to $40,000 in debt when other forms of consumer debt are factored in. That figures includes an average of $27,000 in student loan debt, and on average, most of them are making less than $45,000 a year with their starting salaries, meaning they don't have much to pay down those loans.
The good news is they are not ignorant of their debt. Approximately three quarters of graduates with student loans know their payment dates, 73 percent know the amount they owe, and 71 percent are aware of their current interest rate. However, less than a quarter of them can afford all their basic necessities, let alone bonus items like vacations, dining out, and shopping escapades.
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On average, male recent graduates owe 28 percent more in student loans than female recent graduates ($30,508 vs. $23,892 respectively). Male recent graduates also have more than twice as much nonstudent debt (i.e. credit card debt) than female recent graduates ($17,858 vs. $8,574 respectively).
Their misconceptions might have been because they thought they'd have a higher starting salary. More than two in five (43 percent) recent graduates expected to receive a higher starting salary.
Only one in five (17 percent) can actually afford all the necessities included in the survey (i.e. groceries, rent, cell phone, car and student loan repayment)
Regardless of what they can (or can't) afford, recent graduates may be content with their salaries compared to their friends. The survey found that only a quarter (25 percent) are envious of their friends' starting salaries.
Four in five (80 percent) recent graduates regularly contribute to a savings account; yet, only 38 percent contribute to a retirement account. Even fewer recent grads contribute to an unexpected emergency fund (31 percent), personal investments (22 percent) or a life insurance policy (19 percent). One in ten (10 percent) does not regularly contribute to any type of savings account or fund.
Nearly a third of recent graduates would have: Actively pursued more scholarships/financial aid options (35%) Pursued a different major that would have led to a job with a higher starting salary (31%) Gotten a job while in college and started saving earlier (31%)
The survey was conducted over the phone with 507 recent college graduates of four-year degree programs aged 22-26, fielded by Braun Research.