A few pundits have already noted that student loan debt will lead to the next ﬁnancial crisis, either that or healthcare. For the 2010 graduating class -- my graduating class -- the average student loan debt is over $25,000; $25,250 to be exact.
Lets think about that ﬁgure further with other ﬁgures... . The average starting salary for a college graduate of 2010 was $48,661 (if they even found a job!). To compute taxes paid, add up social security and medicare (7.65%), and compute federal tax on the gross amount after the standard deduction ($5,700) and exemption ($3,650). The total tax bill comes to about $9,732 (excluding possible state and local taxes).
The average cost of living for one person in 2010 was $19,244. I arrived at this number by dividing "average annual expenditures" by "average persons in consumer unit" from the BLS Consumer Expenditures Survey. Although, this estimated number is probably lower than the actual average because it's cheaper to fund a second person than it is for one person to live as an individual.
After $9,732 in taxes and $19,244 in the cost of living, that $48,661 salary comes to about $19,685. If the college graduate then spends all excess income (and has no savings!) it would take approximately 1 years and 4 months for that student to get out of debt.
What about if this indebted student actually starts saving 20% of his or her take-home pay into an emergency fund? Then, that excess of $19,685 dwindles down to $11,899 and it would take approximately 2 years and 2 months to pay off the debt.
Let's not forget these student loans come with interest! So, if the poor, indebted student then takes time to pay of the loans they gather interest in the mean time. I'm not sure what the average interest rate is on the loans, but I imagine the highest being that of a PLUS loan (7.9%) and the lowest being around 3.4%, averaging to 5.65%. This would add an additional 2 months based on a monthly payment of $992, 2 years and 4 months in total.
So, to those savvy average debt holders of class of 2010, who got a job right out of school and been paying it down without a break since, and who've recently completely paid off their loans, congratulations! Meanwhile, I started with almost 3x the average debt, and I'm still paying mine down. I hope it takes me less than 3x the time (7 years)! Donate here.
P.S. It's completely possible I grossly overlooked or estimated these numbers incorrectly. If you've got a better idea, I would love to hear it! Leave a comment below.