Median net worth of grads under 40 with student debt is only $8,700

Young people with student loans are often weighed down by lots of other debt as well.
(Kevin Swank / Associated Press)

The financial travails of people under 40 with student-loan debt extend far beyond the college loans themselves, according to a new study.

That’s because people with student loans often have other types of debt as well, such as car loans or credit-card borrowing, that weigh heavily on their overall financial well-being.

As a result, college graduate heads-of-household under 40 with student debt have a median net worth of only $8,700, according to the analysis by the Pew Research Center. That’s a fraction of the $64,700 the same group without college loans is worth.


The median student debt is about $13,000, a seemingly manageable amount.

But because of the other loans they’ve taken out, the median total indebtedness of college graduates under 40 with student loans is $137,010, according to the study. That is almost twice the $73,250 debt level for their counterparts with no college debt.

The median is the point in a range at which half the measured values are higher and half are lower.

Going to college is still worth it in the long run, according to Pew.

The median income for a household headed by a graduate under 40 is $57,941, or nearly twice the $32,528 level for those without bachelor’s degrees.

A Pew report earlier this year found that the income gap between recent college graduates and those without college diplomas is much wider than in previous generations.

“Young adults with student loan debt are starting out behind in building their nest eggs,” said Richard Fry, the lead author of the new study. “College grads with student loans are benefiting from higher incomes because of their degrees, but about four in 10 borrowers are weighed down with a substantial amount of debt that extends beyond student loan debt.”