If only starting salaries were as much as the cost of college.
Nearly half of millennials (42%) said the biggest mistake they made with their student loans was overestimating the salary of their first job out of college and assuming they’d be able to afford their monthly payments, according to a new survey by personal finance company SoFi. The survey polled more than 1,000 Americans ages 22 to 35.
The next-biggest student-loan mistake respondents said they made, at 31%, was not understanding the specifics of the loan and interest rates. And 14% said the biggest mistake was failing to understand repayment options and timelines, while 11% said it was assuming they would have help paying off their student loans after college.
The average millennial earns $35,455, according to a new SuperMoney report that analyzed US Census Bureau data. It found that those between ages 25 and 34 have seen only a $29 income increase since 1974, when adjusted for inflation — a lot less than the $2,900 increase adults ages 35 to 44 saw, and the $5,400 increase adults ages 45 to 54 saw in the same time period.
Meanwhile, the average student-loan debt per 2018 graduate is $29,800; the average millennial salary isn’t even $6,000 more than that. That’s because income increases haven’t kept up with increases in college tuition, which has more than doubled since 1971.
Juggling student-loan debt and the increased cost-of-living expenses on a small salary has ultimately made it more difficult to save for traditional life milestones like buying a house and getting married. And what it’s done instead is mint the paying off of student-loan debt as the new millennial milestone.