NCES Data Explores Postsecondary Education, Student Loan Trends Among ‘Dot-Com’ Millennials

Most young adults who grew up during the “dot-com bubble” of the late 1990s pursued some form of postsecondary education, but it came at a high cost in the form of student loan debt, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The data comes from a new Statistical Analysis Report that examined how more than 15,000 young adults who were high school sophomores in 2002 reached significant life milestones, such as attending and completing college and starting a job. The study tracked the cohort of students for 10 years, surveying them in 2004, 2006, and 2012, at which point they were around 26 years old. 
According to the data, 84 percent of the cohort successfully transitioned from high school to postsecondary education, and by 2012 about 50 percent had earned a postsecondary degree or certificate, including one-third who earned a bachelor’s degree. 
Thirty-six percent of those who enrolled in college after high school started at a two-year public institution, and 30 percent of them had earned an undergraduate certificate or associate degree by 2012. Only 17 percent of those who started at a community college had earned a bachelor’s degree by 2012. Degree attainment rates were significantly higher among students who enrolled in a public or private four-year institution after high school, with at least 72 percent earning a postsecondary credential by 2012.  
But those degrees came with a price, as 60 percent of the cohort who attended college took out student loans, averaging about $30,000 in debt. After graduating, 25 percent of student loan borrowers said they had to work more than one job at a time because of their student loan debt, while 34 percent said they took a less desirable job and 36 percent worked more hours than desired. Thirty-seven percent said they worked in a job outside their field of study. 
Still, a postsecondary education paid off for those who pursued it, as those in the cohort who completed a credential or degree had a lower probability of being removed from the labor force in 2012 than those with a high school diploma or less, as well as higher hourly wages, according to the data.


Publication Date: 7/7/2017

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