New Report: Money Under 35

Posted by Navient on November 7, 2016

Please review the just released study from Navient, Money Under 35, our second annual report on the financial health of young Americans. Based on interviews with more than 3,000 adults, ages 22 to 35, we found that, while millennials are reporting improvements year-over-year, the improvements are accruing mostly to those with a college degree. Across a number of financial indicators, those who started college but did not complete are struggling the most, even when compared to those who completed high school.

The study confirms what we have seen in servicing for some time: graduation matters. Graduation status is one of the key metrics we use in our data-driven approach to servicing. The findings support our policy recommendations that students and families pursuing higher education receive customized counseling and tools to help them make informed decisions. Navient CEO, Jack Remondi, writes about the graduation imperative that recently appeared in a Medium post:

Some of the key findings of this year’s Money Under 35 report include:

  • Young adults see themselves as more financially secure in 2016 than in 2015. More young adults report being employed full time compared to last year. The vast majority (83%) are in “good” or “excellent” financial health this year according to the Money Under 35 index, with an increase in those scoring in the “excellent” range compared to 2015.
  • Those with a college degree are better off financially than those without. Degree holders are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, have a higher credit score, and are more likely to buy a home, than those without a degree. Associate degree appears to be the breaking point for improving financing health.
  • Those who attended college but did not earn a degree are the most likely group to have poor financial health—including when compared to their peers with a high school education or less. Young adults with some college but no degree have the lowest self-reported assessment of financial health, the lowest median income, and tend to have the lowest credit score of all education categories, including degree holders and those with a high school education or less.
  • Financial outcomes for those who borrowed to earn a degree are better than those without a degree, and are not statistically different from non-borrowing degree holders. Individuals with an associate degree or higher have higher self-assessments of their own financial health compared to those without a degree, regardless of student loans. Borrowers are also as likely to have a good or excellent credit score compared to peers at the same education level who did not borrow. Borrowers and non-borrowers with a degree are equally likely to have a mortgage.
  • The vast majority of young adults report they are saving, but their savings goals are mostly short-term, such as for an emergency fund, a vacation, or a car. Only 3 in 10 report saving for retirement; of those with retirement savings, 35 percent have saved more than $5,000. Just 7 percent of young adults report they are not saving at all. Of those who do have savings goals, 6 percent say they haven’t saved anything yet and another 17 percent report having saved $1,000 or less.
  • There are significant disparities between men and women on earnings and financial health self-assessments. Men working full-time have a self-reported median income $30,000 higher than women ($72,500 compared to $42,500). This gap narrows considerably, but still exists, for young adults who studied in STEM fields. (These women are paid $5,000 less compared to their male counterparts.)

The report and infographic are available at

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