Millennials struggling with student debt, uncertain economy

Living with his parents in Verona, New Jersey is not what 23 year-old Anthony DeCandia envisioned after graduating from college last year.

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Anthony DeCandia

CBS News

But then again, he didn’t envision being $80,000 in student debt either.

“Obviously I love my family, I love the free food and I love my dog. But I’m just ready to move on and live on my own and it’s just tough because with these loans and all these debts that us millennials have, we can’t,” DeCandia said.

DeCandia’s story is one of more than 75 million other millennials juggling debt and economic uncertainty, reports CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger.

“Millennials are disproportionately more likely to start their economic life in debt and also carry higher amount of debt than [the] previous generation,” said Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics with the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at the George Washington University School of Business .

The average student loan debt has more than tripled in the last 20 years. For the first time, more millennials are living with parents than with spouses or partners. And since the recession, young adults have been slower to buy homes.

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Crystal White, 27, just got engaged, and she and her fiance rent a small apartment in Los Angeles. Plans for a wedding and buying a house are on hiatus as they chip away at their combined student loans that top $100,000.

“I would say things have been delayed by two to three years from where we want them to be,” White said.

Schlesinger reports that White puts two percent of her income away for retirement, and says that young people should make an effort to save. 

“Pick some small amount, get into a habit of saving, and as your budget allows, you increase it slowly. But you’ve got to start somewhere,” Schlesinger said. Starting early is key.

White, a graphic designer, has been meeting her student loan obligations and paying off credit cards each month.

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Crystal White, left, and her fiance cannot afford to get married or buy a home

CBS News

“I think it’s just really important to no longer view millennials as just whining kids. We’re adults, we’re professionals and we’re working really hard to get where our parents were and to do better than our parents,” she said.

“That’s supposed to be the dream, right?”