As the Value of a High School Degree Declines, More and More Students Are Going #InTheRed

In partnership with various organizations working to curtail the student debt crisis, members of the United States Senate have recently put together a campaign to set the student debt crisis talks front and center. Dubbed “#InTheRed,” the campaign is part of a larger effort by Senate Democrats to make student debt a priority in 2016. One of these Senators, Chuck Schumer (D – NY) said, “I am launching this campaign today to encourage students and parents and student loan debt holders to share their stories so we can finally force Congress to comprehensively address the issue of college affordability, which is key to the ongoing success of our economy.”

Though all generations suffer from student debt and its wide-reaching effects, Millennials are especially affected. Millennials who have yet to reach college have hope that Congress passes some major student debt legislation beforehand. However, the college debt problem extends beyond just college-bound Millennials.

A study from the Pew Research Center found that there is a rise in the wage disparity between young adults with and without a college degree. That is, Millennials that have only a high school degree make 62 percent of what a college-educated Millennial makes. Compare that to early Baby Boomers when a high school degree recipient made 77 percent of a college degree. The rise in wage gap between high school and college graduates is at an all time high in the Millennial generation.

This wage gap has lead to the Millennial generation becoming the best-educated generation in history (34 percent of Millennials have a college degree). This rise in college degree output means that employers have more of a supply for college educated young adults and for that reason a college degree has become the de factominimum requirement for many sectors, where a generation previous, just a high school degree would do.

Millennials graduating with major debt also have an issue when thinking about paying it back. The study also finds that Millennials who graduate college do not make more money than that of their earlier generation counterparts. “The overall median earnings of today’s Millennials ($35,000) aren’t much different than the earnings of early Boomers ($34,883) or Gen Xers ($32,173) and only somewhat higher than Silents ($30,982) at comparable ages,” the Pew Research Center finds.

More educated Millennials is a wonderful thing for America, but it means that the work being done for proposals like #InTheRed or President Obama’s new income driven financing plan, Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), are even more important. With an influx of Millennials trying to finance college in order to not be left behind by the changing times, it is important that Millennials stay politically active in order to speak out for their college financing needs.

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