NEW YORK — Students who graduated college in the throes of the recession are still struggling to make it on their own.
Two years out of college, half of graduates are relying on their parents or other family members for some sort of financial help, according to research from the University of Arizona. The study tracked more than 1,000 of its students over the course of five years — from when they entered college in 2007 to 2013.
“These people started college during the boom period, then the market fell apart and they came out of college into a very different environment,” said Ted Beck, president of the National Endowment for Financial Education, which helped sponsor the research.
Whether they rely on their parents for every single expense or just need a little help here and there, many graduates say their financial situations have caused them to postpone certain life goals — like getting married, having children or buying a home.
About 28% of respondents said marriage is not an important goal for them, while 27% said the same about having children. Another 19% said owning a home isn’t important to them, and 16% cited living on their own as unimportant.
“There’s been a deferral of those things we would traditionally think people would start to do at this age,” said Beck. “People are not willing to make those commitments until they’re on more solid ground.”
Along with piles of student loan debt, the tough job market has likely been a big factor, with only 49% of graduates saying they work full-time. Even among those who have full-time jobs, nearly half say they still rely on family for financial support.
“Whether or not a weak labor market is increasing the need for intergenerational support — a likely driver in today’s economy — our data clearly showed that many young adults today may not be earning enough to make it on their own, even when working full time,” the report states.
Full-time workers reported earning between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, while part-time employees said they earn between $25,000 and $40,000.
When it comes to their careers, graduates are largely choosing idealistic goals over financial ones. The majority said that working within their area of interest is the most important factor to career satisfaction, while working at a company with a 401(k) matching program was least important.
And while financial independence is still a life goal among the vast majority, or 91%, of graduates — the reality is that most have a long way to go to get there.
Of the more than 1,000 students surveyed, only 300 said they are completely self-sufficient now that they are two years out of college.
“It’s taking many grads longer to launch,” said Beck.