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student loans changing job hunt

Student Loans Are Changing the Job Hunt for Recent Grads

Finding a great career—one in which you’re happy, well compensated, and doing the very thing you studied to do—requires a combination of networking, skill, and luck.

However, add student loan debt into the equation and the job hunt may become less about finding the perfect job and more about finding the perfect paycheck.

Read more In Five Charts: How to Have a Happy Career

More than half of recent graduates between ages 18 and 24 who have student loans said they changed their job search strategy because of their debt, a recent Earnest survey revealed. The survey included more than 1,000 people between ages 18 and 44 across the United States.student-loans-affect-new-job-seekers

Among millennials who changed their job search strategy, 55% said they accepted a job more quickly in order to have income than they would have without debt. Older borrowers who changed strategy were more likely to consider different industries or roles.debt-accelerates-the-job-search

Earnest’s survey also showed that those who did change their job search strategy because of debt were less likely to have jobs related to their major—and reported being less happy with their job.


The findings underscore the decreasing flexibility new graduates may feel in career choice compared to previous less-indebted generations—and how debt is reshaping early-job decisions for young adults.

For 2016 graduates, the average amount borrowed for undergraduate study was $37,173, according to student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz. That comes out to nearly $400 a month in repayment in a 10-year plan with an interest rate of 5%. For graduate students with more substantial debt, bills for student loans can easily surpass $1,000 per month.

Read more How Much Should You Borrow for Your Degree?

However, just as indebted new graduates may need to launch as soon as possible into the working world following graduation—there are a growing number of job-placement programs designed specifically to help first-time job seekers get their first full-time position quickly. Likewise, a growing number of companies are starting to offer student loan relief as an employee benefit. Earnest’s Precision Pricing feature can also help borrowers set a monthly student loan payment that matches their budget when they refinance.

Did you change your job search strategy because of your student loans? We’d like to hear your story. Send us an email at [email protected] 

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.