The new normal: College debt keeps grads at home


When I was a young adult I couldn't wait to leave home and get out on my own. It really wasn't that hard to do -- I made good money as a waitress and cheap places were plentiful. When I went to nursing school in Colorado Springs, tuition was $700 a semester including books and I could make enough in the summer to pay for school. I lived in a nice cabin for $60 a month that included heat and cable. Boy, are those days gone.

College graduates now face thousands of dollars of debt as they pick up their diplomas. Two-thirds (65.7%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduate with an average student loan debt of $19,237. Graduate and professional students borrow even more, with the additional debt for a graduate degree ranging from $27,000 to $114,000. Many graduates see little choice to get out of debt except move back with the folks.

These boomerangers are everywhere. In 2007, 14.5 million children age 18-24 lived at home, up from 6.4 million in 1960, according to U.S. Census figures. Moving back home has become the new normal. So many kids are doing so that there is no longer a stigma.