How student loans are keeping people in jobs they don’t want

This article looks at how student debt levels are keeping many graduates from pursuing their career goals.

It is no secret that the cost of tuition has reached dizzying heights in recent years and along with it so have student debt levels. Most people justify going tens of thousands of dollars into student debt because it is commonly believed that a better - and more expensive - education will help further one's career goals. However, as CNBC recently pointed out, the huge student debt loads that millions of Americans are carrying are forcing many people to choose jobs that have nothing to do with their field of study in college.

Debt and career goals

College should be a way for people to pursue their career goals, but with student debt levels reaching astronomical heights, many people graduate from college having to choose between pursuing their dreams and paying down their debts. Americans are carrying more student debt than credit card or auto debt and 70 percent of college graduates have student debt.

Over half of student loan borrowers say that debt was a factor in the career path they chose after college and one survey found that 47 percent student loan borrowers either "Agreed" or "Strongly Agreed" that student debt hampered their ability to further their careers. One study has found that every additional $2,500 in student debt decreased a person's likelihood of finding a job related to their major by five percent. Another study found that 60 percent of those who owe $100,000 or more in student loans work in jobs that are unrelated to their field of study.

Bad for the economy

High student debt bills often mean that people cannot afford to begin in entry positions in their desired fields, where the pay may be low but there is potential to advance, and must instead choose relatively better paying jobs but with little opportunity to grow. The CNBC article, for example, points to one Rutgers marine science major who was forced to turn down a trainee position working with dolphins and instead become a supermarket manager in order to pay his student loan bills.

The fact that student debt is keeping people from furthering their careers - not to mention that it also discourages buying a home or starting a family - has led some economists to warn that student loans are hampering the entire American economy. The fact that student loans are so hard to discharge in bankruptcy further increases their economic burden. As U.S. News & World Report notes, concerns about the economic damage being caused by student debt is one reason why the Department of Education has begun taking steps to make it easier for people to declare bankruptcy on student loans.

Help with debt

As the above article shows, debt can be a tremendous burden and can easily hold people back. Those struggling with debt should contact a bankruptcy attorney for help. An attorney can advise clients about whether bankruptcy is a viable path forward and how it may be able to help them get their financial lives back under control.