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The Surprising Student Debt Problem of High Earning Millennials

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Sixty-five percent of college seniors graduating from private or public college have accumulated student loan debt. Of that group, the debt averages out to around $29,200 per person.1 And while student loan debt is a burden to any graduate, it can have a surprisingly negative effect on HENRYs, or those considered to be a high earner, not rich yet. Below we’re discussing why high earning millennials are feeling just as stressed, if not more, about their looming debt as their peers.   

Who Are HENRYs?

As mentioned above, HENRY stands for “high earner, not rich yet.” A common phrase in the world of finances, these are typically young professionals who are earning high incomes, but due to expenses or debt, they are not yet able to accumulate net worth. 

Student Debt Problems For HENRYs

Millennials across the board are faced with an immense amount of student loan debt. But for HENRYs, in particular, there are a few special circumstances that can make the weight of their debt feel even heavier.

Debt Stress

Imagine loading up on extra classes, pulling frequent all-nighters, tackling residencies and more to earn a degree and find yourself in a well-deserved high paying job. Now, imagine having to live paycheck to paycheck, even as you’re earning a much higher salary than others your age. That’s the reality many HENRYs who’ve accumulated student debt face. And because of this, they’re experiencing debt stress that their lower-income peers may not feel to the same extent. 

Debt stress is a real issue that can be physically experienced by those facing large amounts of debt. The stress felt by the weight of debt bearing down can manifest itself in many ways, including fear, panic, anger and denial.2   

Higher Taxes

The more money HENRYs make, the higher tax bracket they end up in. And while student loan debt and interest can bring some relief to millennials, the more you make - the less relief is given, in most cases. So HENRYs are faced with both a bigger chunk of their paycheck going towards Uncle Sam while still being responsible for paying back student loan debt month after month.

No Time for Extra Income

These days, you may be hardpressed to find a millennial who isn’t working on a side hustle. Whether it’s driving for a rideshare company, blogging for money, picking up a shift in retail or selling crafts online, lots of people pursue a second job to help offset their monthly spending and student debt. But when it comes to HENRYs, they’re often faced working long or odd hours their lower-income counterparts may not be experiencing. Especially if these HENRYs are entering into their first real job or they’re still lower on the corporate ladder, they could be expected to put in longer days than the typical 9 to 5. This leaves them with little time or energy to pursue a hobby or commit to a second job.  

With student loan debt standing at $1.48 trillion, a majority of today’s millennials are faced with how to pay down their portion while growing their savings and building net worth.3 And for those who worked hard all through college to land a high paying job, student debt can be a crippling and unforeseen hindrance on their personal finances.     


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  1. https://ticas.org/our-work/student-debt/
  2. https://www.debt.org/advice/emotional-effects/
  3. https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/topics/student-debt




This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.