Portraits of debt-buried, underemployed graduates living with their parents


I was paying student loans and child support and living in all sorts of awful rented rooms. There are alternatives to living with your folks if you don’t mind the atmosphere of living in a half-way house where people won’t take their meds. It’s a learning experience, believe me. But you do need to be in good enough physical condition to intimidate the occasional crack head.


It’s not just one way - my in-laws will be coming to live with us in the next few months as they won’t be able to live on their pension once they stop working full-time. Actually, it isn’t necessarily such a bad thing to be living with extended family - plenty of people around the world do it as a matter of course without feeling that they’ve failed in life. Graduate debt is another thing and I can see that this is one aspect of a wider story, but there’s a ‘living in your mom’s basement’ stigma that isn’t necessarily helpful.

Edit to add: most of these people aren’t actually unemployed at all and some have jobs that are directly related to their studies and future ambitions. Perhaps they haven’t had as much success as they’d like and the debt is certainly holding them back, but the situation isn’t necessarily as grim as the heading suggests.


Yeah; it’s a trend that started in the 90s and has only gotten worse as tuitions continue to rise.

I saw that story on Fark about the family who owes $200k on their dead daughter’s college loans, and other than the genuine callousness of the Fark crowd, the thing that strikes me is that you can end up spending $75k-$100k to get a degree to be qualified for a $50k/year job. And it’s a job that’s in demand! That’s beyond messed up.


If you are spending $200K for an education, you’re doing something wrong.

Also, I thought death was one of the few things that got your student loans forgiven.

The photographer himself is a great example of poor planning that gets so many people stuck in debt. $100,000 in debt to get a degree in photography. Unless that degree gets you another $15k/yr, you’re going to end up worse off after graduation for at least a decade. And if it’s a competitive field where you have a pretty good chance of not getting a job, then you’re really gambling.

I think competent math skills would go a long ways to avoiding these problems.

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It wasn’t that she spent $200k on an education; she got a $100k loan, and with interest it has ballooned to $200k.

Her dad cosigned, apparently lacking the foresight to know that she would die of liver disease and that he, out of compassion, would choose to raise her kids.

I “get” the parts where she might have been able to get a cheaper education and that the dad should have taken out insurance against her, but…y’know…I don’t understand how we’ve come to the point as a society where we see a situation like that, and say, “Sucks to be you but you were stupid.”


$100k is still crazy expensive. But anyway - how on earth did it balloon to twice its size? Did they go through some shady company, because the federal loans don’t do that. At least mine didn’t and I’ve paid so little on them it is criminal.

I skimmed another page with this story last night. IIRC, they were private loans, that’s why they weren’t discharged. Some lenders reduced the debt or the interest rates, but were under no legal obligations to do so.

I’m surprised that there’s not an option on loans like that to take life insurance out to pay it back on death and roll it into the principal of the loan (and likely, there is), or even something akin to gap insurance based on future earnings (but that would probably be expensive, risky and hard to underwrite properly).

Well it’s a shame they didn’t have term life insurance because for someone in their 20’s it would have only cost a couple bucks a month for a couple hundred thousands in coverage…

And the “private loan” might well have been a home equity loan, which would really put them over a barrel.

So the takeaway is this:

You should continue buying into the expensive college path with an awful ROI because its now cool to move back in with your parents.
Never mind that this looks similar to the housing bubble, issuing loans that are really hard for people to pay off.

(Of course an education is important! But not more important than putting food on the table, making a living and/or your personal health)

Not ever mentioned in tandem with this subject: The countless graduates who do not have the option of moving back in with their parents, due to said parents being even poorer. Anybody want to argue the value of higher education and student debt with the folks in that situation?


This is also happening in the UK


Parents living with the family later in life used to be a not unusual thing. In fact, in many countries it’s still fairly typical. My great-grandmother lived with my mom’s parents after her husband died and that wasn’t unusual at the time. The “move out at 18 and don’t ever live in the same house as your parents again” way of living is a relatively recent phenomenon (in the later half of the 20th century primarily) and is mostly confined to Canada, Western Europe, and the US as I understand it. It probably depends on two factors: whether the emphasis is on the individual or the family unit (US and similar countries, solidly individual, more now than ever; much of Africa and Asia, far more on the family unit) and how much in the way of resources the family has.


I was a graduate of that sort in the 90’s. Moving home wasn’t an option. I opted for continuing to have housemates, just as I had at uni. Sucked in many ways, but I was used to it already and could afford everything until I was better established.

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There may very well be 2 million living at home but your’e reading it wrong.
That situation’s like, totally generated ten or twenty more millionaires.

Or, y’know, like, totally; one extra rich millionaire or whatever.


Often the next step after getting a degree requires moving to another city to find work.

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That’s what I did. :wink:

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And break the family/friends ties. No more frequent visits, no more shared social activities, a completely new crowd to build and then scratch it all and start again when new move has to be done.

And then the economists and their ilk carp and carp about “mobile workforce” like it is some good thing, and completely neglect the nonmonetary, social costs…


That is a real concern. I’ve lived in my current location for 10 years and have few friends because my last work environment was very toxic and I no longer have time for group activities. All old friends and family members are far away. I have often thought that there were a couple points in my career where i should have circled back to more familiar territory, and maybe people should consider that as part of their long range plans.

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