U.S. Markets closed

Millennials struggle under the burden of student loan debt

Mark Strassmann

This article, Millennials struggle under the burden of student loan debt, originally appeared on CBSNews.com

There's a growing debate in the over student loan forgiveness, and proposals to relieve graduates in debt. Borrowers nationwide owe a total of $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt.  Taylor Smith's a millennial on the move in Houston. But at 25, she has put off buying a house, getting married and starting a family. "If you want a good job, you have to go to college. But nobody talks about the price," Smith said. To pay for her education at Texas A&M University, Smith worked full-time throughout college. She also cobbled together 11 student loans. "I probably graduated with about $53,000 in student debt," Smith said. "That number hit me for the first time my last semester of college. And it was the first time I saw the full balance. And I had a panic attack immediately." After graduation, she couldn't afford the monthly minimum payment. She had to quit her first dream job registering voters in Colorado with the nonpartisan New Era Colorado Foundation.  

Smith is far from alone. So CBS News asked millennials to share their stories. Samer Hassan, 28, currently has $22,000 in student debt.

"By the time I graduate university, that will be $80,000," Hassan said. "This is going to turn into an $800 bill every month. That's a car note. That's a home mortgage. That's childcare."

Michael Perles, 27, said he is about $134,000 in debt. Ky'Lend Adams, 23, owes $90,000. Allie Truitt has around $56,000 in debt.

"When I lost my job when the recession hit, I asked for help. I asked if there was any way I could lower my monthly payments. The only thing they offered me was deferment with a lifetime maximum of nine months," Truitt said.

Elizabeth Chandry owes more than $108,000.

"It prevents me from a lot of things. Getting a dog, buying a house and right now it is making it extremely hard for me to change careers," she said.

They all described the anxiety they feel about how their loans will impact the rest of their life.  "If I decided to get a car, if I decide to own a home, these student loans are a part of my credit score and a part of my identity for the rest of my life," Adams said.The issues related to student debt are so wide-ranging, groups have popped up to respond. Young Invincibles and Student Debt Crisis have been working to increase awareness on the impacts of debt.

Stream CBSN, a 24/7 live news channel from CBS News for free.