Millennials Achieve Record Rates of Higher Education—And Student Debt, White House Says

By Katy Hopkins, Communications Staff

Educated, indebted, and upbeat. That might describe the typical Millennial, according to a new report from the White House.

Millennials—Americans in their early 20’s to mid-30’s—amass a “generation … marked by transformations at nearly every important milestone,” according to “15 Facts About Millennials,” compiled by the Council of Economic Advisers. They matured as technology did, and many chose career paths or started jobs during the economic turmoil of the Great Recession.

They’ve also achieved more higher education, as a group, than previous generations. 

“More Millennials have a college degree than any other generation of young adults,” with 47 percent of 25 to 34- year-olds holding some advanced degree in 2013, the report notes. “Millennials are also more likely to attend graduate school than previous generations.” 

Millennials, the “most diverse generation” alive, have also been part of “an unprecedented expansion of higher education to lower-income and underrepresented minority students,” according to the report. 

But that expansion has been costly for students, as states cut subsidies and college costs continued to rise while institutions served more – and more low-income—students. “Around half of students borrowed student loans during the 2013-14 school year, up from around 30 percent in the mid-1990s,” the report states.

Repaying those debts could be difficult for a number of reasons outlined by the report. Many Millennials have shied away from majors like science, opting instead for social sciences; they’ve been reticent to concurrently juggle school and work; and the recession will have lasting effects on the young employees who entered the workforce during the worst of the downturn.

“Research shows that entering the labor market during a recession can result in substantial earnings losses that persist for more than a decade, with negative effects lasting longer for college graduates,” according to the report.

Still, Millennials remain an upbeat bunch, focused on working towards a better future. 

“Millennials themselves remain largely optimistic about their ability to move up socioeconomically, with over half agreeing that people like them have a good chance of improving their standard of living,” the report concludes. “…Millennials, like all young people, are more optimistic than older respondents.”


Publication Date: 10/10/2014

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