Households with student loan debt take a major hit to their overall net worth and are more likely to accumulate other types of debt, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday.
Analyzing government data, Pew looked at households headed by Americans under 40 and found that those who graduated college without student loan debt have seven times the net worth, nearly $65,000, as those who have student loan debt, at $8,700.
"They're behind in building their nest egg," says Richard Fry, senior economist with Pew and lead author of the report.
But the difference in the wealth gap between those who graduated with debt and those who didn't is greater than the student loan debt itself, suggesting student loan debtors are also susceptible to other kinds of debt. While the typical household that owes student loans has about $13,000 in outstanding debt, they have about $137,000 in total debt compared with the $73,000 in debt that college-educated households without student loans hold.
Households with student debt are more likely to have car debt, 43% do vs. the 27% of college-educated households without student loans, and credit card debt, 60% vs. 39%.
Fry says that while the study doesn't determine exactly why student loan debtors also have more of other types of debt, he offers two hypotheses: student loan debt is so burdensome that it prevents young adults from being able to get ahead financially in other aspects of their lives and forces them to take on more debt. And with more people enrolling in college over time, the economic gap between those who have to borrow to attend and those who don't may be widening; those who have to borrow are likely already in a financial situation that will lead to more borrowing later on.
Luckily though, a college degree still pays off, even if you have to go into debt to get one. Household income of college-educated young adults with student debt is almost twice as high as the income for households where no one went to college, nearly $58,000 compared with about $32,500, respectively.