Will my daughter incur so much debt that she will end up living at home again?

College Consultant

This is the fourth in a series about “Face Down Your Top Four College Fears and Help Your Student Succeed!!

The short answer to the headline is, “Maybe.” According to student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz, the average 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student debt.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), estimates the starting salary for a 2015 college graduate was just over $50,000.

While this sounds like a solid salary, consider what happens if the student plans to marry, have children, buy a home or any of the other grownup things to do. That $37,000+ albatross hangs around her neck for quite a while. The
chart below offers information on starting salaries for various disciplines.

Broad Category # of Salaries Mean 25th Percentile Median 75th Percentile
Information Sciences 705 $65,849 $54,000 $65,000 $73,000
Engineering 3,880 $61,819 $55,000 $62,000 $67,000
Liberal Arts/Sciences 264 $50,116 $35,000 $45,000 $65,000
Business 4,922 $49,536 $40,000 $50,000 $56,762
Social Sciences 458 $39,931 $30,088 $37,499 $48,000
History 76 $37,957 $31,000 $40,000 $44,500
Visual & Performing Arts 211 $36,041 $27,750 $35,000 $42,250
Psychology 334 $35,108 $27,500 $32,750 $40,000
English 149 $34,702 $24,000 $35,000 $40,600

Average salaries by discipline for bachelor’s degree graduates
Source: Fall 2015 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers.All data are for bachelor’s degree level graduates.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

Unemployment and underemployment rates among young graduates are improving but remain substantially higher than before the recession began.

  • For young college graduates, the unemployment rate is currently 7.2 percent (compared with 5.5 percent in 2007), and the underemployment rate is 14.9 percent (compared with 9.6 percent in 2007).
  • The high share of unemployed and underemployed young college graduates and the share of employed young college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree underscore that the current unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because today’s young adults lack the right education or skills.
  • Graduating in a weak economy has long-lasting economic consequences. Economic research suggests that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2015 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.
  • The share of young graduates who are “idled” by the economy – neither enrolled in further schooling nor employed – remains elevated in the wake of the Great Recession. This indicates that many graduates are unable to take the two main paths – receiving further education or getting more work experience that enable future career success.
  • Among young college graduates, 10.5 percent are neither enrolled nor employed (compared with 8.4 percent in 2007).”

Source: The Class of 2015: Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb, by Alyssa Davis,Will Kimball, and Elise Gould

Additionally, the full cost of attendance has increased 125.7 % for private and 129.0 % for public colleges when we compare enrollments for 1983 – 1984 to the 2013 – 2014 numbers. Source: College Board

This is a pretty bleak picture for young graduates and it is likely that your daughter will come home after college in order to have time to pay down her loans and settle into a job in her field.

How you adapt to that possibility will determine how soon she moves out.

College SuccessIt’s our job as parents to give our kids a leg-up but, after a certain point, we’re enabling them. Before your daughter comes home, make sure that:

  • She understands this is a temporary arrangement (six months – a year).
  • You have a contract for your expectations and hers while she lives with you. There are some terrific versions of this contract online (just Google: contract for adult child living at home). Tailor this to your specific situation and recognize that you are negotiating with a college-educated adult and not your little girl. She has something to say about what is in the contract too.
  • Once all parties agree, stick to it!

Finally, remember that you are not alone!

There are many professionals who can help you navigate these waters and I am one of them. Give me a call if you have questions at 301-834-6888!