On average, half of recent and upcoming graduates incurred student loan debt to pay for college, the first Cengage Student Opportunity Index has found.
Cengage surveyed 2,500 recent and upcoming graduates to measure the opportunity environment for graduates across 17 indicators. Categories measured included economic, employment, social and personal well-being, with scores calculated on both a national and regional level.
The survey found that 51 percent of students with an average student debt amount of $22,919 believe it will only take six years to pay off their loans.
Housing costs are one of the major problems facing college graduates, with more than half of students reporting that they have struggled to find an affordable option. 65 percent of respondents said they will likely have to move away from their current area to afford a house.
Most recent and near-graduates are confident about their professional futures, with 93 percent anticipating securing a job within six months of graduating. 88 percent also expect an increase in the number of available jobs in their field of study within the next two years.
The survey documented that 71 percent of students are satisfied with their mental health, and 66 percent are satisfied with their physical health.
However, when it comes to rating the direction in which the U.S. is headed, nearly 48 percent of respondents believe it is headed in the wrong direction, with mostly women endorsing this view. For 49 percent of men, the country is going in the right direction.
“The Index shows that college is still a solid investment, but students’ optimism about their futures signals they don’t yet appreciate how loan debt and housing costs may impact their ability to find the jobs they want,” Michael E. Hansen, CEO of Cengage, said.
“This clearly underscores the need for the education ecosystem to work together on policies and programs that make college more affordable and help students transition from college to the workplace.”