A financial planner shares the most common money problem she sees with 20-somethings


UVA student studying

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The national student debt has reached an all-time high, but some borrowers aren't aware of the massive debt they're taking on.

National student loan debt in the US topped $1.3 trillion this year, with the average borrower for the class of 2016 graduating an estimated $37,172 in the hole.

Though borrowing money for education is more common than ever, one financial planner says many of her 20-something clients don't fully understand the debt they're taking on until later.

"A lot of people in their 20s come in [saying] 'I wasn't really aware how much I was borrowing from student loans and I wasn't aware how much that would affect my life for the next 30 years,'" Katie Brewer, a Dallas-based CFP and founder of Your Richest Life, told Business Insider.


Brewer said her clients' shock at the amount of money they owe is "a theme that I hear quite a bit, especially among the higher-educated crowd where they went and got master's degrees or went to medical school."

Though only 14% of students in higher education are in graduate school, their combined debt accounts for 40% of the total student debt. However, students earning a medical or law degree often land high-paying jobs enabling them to pay back their student loans with ease compared to, say, an undergraduate in humanities.

Brewer said that her 20-something clients admit that while they knew they were taking on debt, they weren't aware how high the payments would be and how long they would last.


Writing for TIME, leading student financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz estimates that more than 25% of borrowers are graduating with "excessive" debt. He explains that this debt load significantly influences how many borrowers live their lives.

"I also found that students who graduate with excessive debt are about 10% more likely to say that it caused delays in major life events, such [as] buying a home, getting married, or having children," Kantrowitz wrote.

When yoo do reach the point in your 20s or 30s of considering marriage, it's important to be open with your partner about how much student debt you're still carrying, if any, in addition to how it could affect your larger financial goals as a couple.


Additional reporting by Libby Kane.

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