"I think of student loans as the cockroaches of debt," Michelle Singletary writes at The Washington Post. "The loans are hard to get rid of because for so long, people were told this was good and necessary debt and so it wasn’t a bad thing to have it hang around for decades.
"When people ask me about what they should do about their student loans," she writes, "I ask: What are you willing to do to get rid of them as fast as you can? And here’s my suggestion: Live for as long as you can with your parents, relatives or anyone who will allow you to stay rent-free or charge you a super-low rent."
It would appear that, at least on one point, many young millennials are following the Singletary plan, as record numbers are moving in with their parents, a new Pew report shows.
"Young adults ages 25 to 34 have been a major component of the growth in the population living with multiple generations since 1980 — and especially since 2010," Pew notes. "By 2012, roughly 1 in 4 of these young adults (23.6 percent) lived in multi-generational households, up from 18.7 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 1980.
"The Great Recession resulted in a large loss in employment for young adults," Pew noted. "But the fact that a larger share of young men than women are now living in multi-generational arrangements does not necessarily imply that the job losses since 2007 have been greater among young men."
Living with friends and relatives to pay off student debt naturally delays starting a family, as David Dayen noted at The New Republic several months ago.
"The recent explosion in student debt — now held by 1 in 5 U.S. households — coincided with the Great Recession’s awful job market," Dayen wrote. "Millennials have come of age amid stagnant wages, high unemployment, a lack of quality jobs (44 percent of recent graduates work in positions that don’t require a college degree), and, for those fortunate enough to attend college, an average of nearly $30,000 in debt.
"All this has led to what we can call the Great Delay," Dayen argued. "The normal milestones of adulthood — moving out of the childhood home, buying a car, getting a mortgage — are coming later and later in life. Could the way we finance higher education in America be sucking the vitality out of the economy, digging an entire generation a hole from which they cannot escape?"