This fall, 2020 college graduates will start paying back student loans, joining some 44 million Americans who owe an estimated $1.7 trillion in student debt, something millennials have been struggling with, as will Gen Zers in the near future.
They aren’t the only ones. A report released Tuesday by Fidelity Investments shows that overall student debt has only increased during the pandemic, regardless of generation or occupation, with baby boomers bearing the biggest burden.
In part because of Parent Plus loans secured for their children, the amount of debt boomers owed increased by 33% over 2019, based on data derived from more than 250,000 loans reported by users of Fidelity’s Student Debt Tool.
Fidelity analysts also found that employees working in the health care and social assistance industry were paying the most — $801 a month, or about $100 a month more than the nearest sector and a 10% increase over 2019.
“Health care workers are on the front line every day taking care of us during this pandemic, but also the ones struggling the most with student debt,” Asha Srikantiah, head of Fidelity Investments’ student debt program, said in a statement.
“Student debt impacts everyone, young and old, as well as workers in all industries, and given the heightened stress we are all experiencing, it’s important to recognize how tightly tied financial stress is to emotional well-being.”
Srikantiah said Fidelity’s research showed that taking on debt was one of the most negative events when it comes to financial wellness. Paying off debt is one of the most positive, both financially and in terms of health, work and life overall.
Student Debt Impact on Retirement
Fidelity’s data showed that many individuals were delaying contributing to retirement or were taking out loans against their 401(k), which it said meant they were borrowing against their future to pay for the past.