In The News: The average millennial has a net worth of $8,000. That’s far less than previous generations.

June 5, 2019
By Abha Bhattarai for Washington Post

Millennials are doing far worse financially than generations before them, with student loans, rising rents and higher health-care costs pushing the average net worth below $8,000, a new study shows.

The net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996, according to research released Thursday by Deloitte, the accounting and professional services giant. This demographic is paying more for education and such basics as food and transportation while incomes have largely flatlined.

“The vast majority of consumers are under tremendous financial pressure,” said Kasey M. Lobaugh, Deloitte’s chief retail innovation officer and lead author of the study. “That is particularly true for low-income Americans and millennials.”

The growing gap between the nation’s wealthiest residents and everybody else, he said, is affecting the way consumers spend…

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In The News: 4 Years of College, $0 in Debt: How Some Countries Make Higher Education Affordable

May 30, 2019

Lara Takenaga

By Lara Takenaga Written for the New York Times

Morehouse College’s 2019 graduates don’t have to worry about crushing student debt, since the billionaire investor Robert F. Smith pledged last week to pay it all off. Neither do graduates of colleges in countries that offer affordable tuition and generous stipends.

As young adults wrestle with student debt in the United States, where it has reached $1.5 trillion, many recent graduates in some countries are debt free.

When we asked people around the world what they paid for their higher education and how they financed it, we received nearly 800 responses from more than 40 countries.

Below is a selection of the responses, which show how government policies can shape the personal and professional choices that young adults make as they begin their careers. The responses have been edited and condensed.

Denmark is among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that spend the most on postsecondary education, at 1.6 percent of its gross domestic product. (The United States allocates 0.9 percent of its G.D.P.)

I attended the Technical University of Denmark from 2008 to 2013. All university is paid for by taxes. Books are maybe $500 per semester — lower than when I studied in the United States, but still a big expense.

Students who don’t live with their parents get a monthly stipend from the government of about $900 for living costs. Some people get more (if you have a child, for example). If you become pregnant during university, you get a year of parental leave, and you continue receiving the stipend. The stipend goes for up to six years (one year more than a typical bachelor’s and master’s degree). You can work part time up to a certain limit and still keep the stipend, but if you work too much and earn too much money, you have to pay back the stipend.

When we study abroad, we get to bring the tuition with us, and we apply for scholarships to pay other expenses like visas and plane tickets. I studied in Oregon for six months in 2011 and didn’t spend any of my own money.

An increased emphasis on higher education attainment has led to 45 percent of Taiwan’s population aged 15 and older earning a technical college or university degree, a 10 percent increase over the last decade, according to the Taiwanese government.

I graduated from National Taiwan University in 2012 with two majors. My tuition was about $375 per semester. The amount was just a fraction of my parents’ monthly salary, so they helped pay.

Because I didn’t go into debt for college (who should, anyway?), I didn’t feel pressure to get a job immediately or feel the need for a high-paying one. Salary wasn’t my concern; I could do whatever I wanted for my career.

— Hung-Yu Juan. Undergraduate tuition: $3,000. Loans: $0.

Government grants help undergraduate students pay for living costs and education fees in Ireland. Some students have protested the contribution fees of 3,000 euros ($3,360) a year, calling for a publicly funded education system like those elsewhere in Europe.

The government subsidizes undergraduate college education for European Union citizens, so technically my college degree was free. However, you’re required to pay a student contribution to your university, which works out to €3,000 annually, so I paid €12,000 for my degree.

I was extremely fortunate that my parents had put aside college money since I was born, so they covered my tuition, from 2015 to 2019. They also paid for my rent and groceries. I worked throughout my degree to supplement additional costs.

Because the cost of living in Dublin is super high, I was lucky to live in an accommodation that was pretty cheap, albeit gross. Because my parents paid for my degree, its cost did not affect my day-to-day life, but I definitely lived frugally.

— Grace Browne. Undergraduate tuition: €12,000. Loans: $0.

The Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, initiated a policy in 2018 that eliminates fees for postsecondary students’ first year. The policy is scheduled to extend to three years by 2024.

I’m in my third year of a six-year undergraduate medical degree at the University of Otago in Dunedin. My first year cost 7,000 New Zealand dollars ($4,600) and subsequent years cost 15,000 N.Z.D. Our government offers loans to all citizens, and residents who have been here more than three years. These loans cover full tuition (and they subsidize the rest of our fees, which, for medicine, are upward of 75,000 N.Z.D. a year). Students are also eligible for an additional loan or an allowance for living costs.

After graduation you pay 12 percent on what you earn above 19,760 N.Z.D. (for me, on a base junior doctor’s salary of 56,000 N.Z.D. a year, I would repay about 4,500 N.Z.D. a year).

As a student doing one of the longest, most expensive degrees and living away from home, my loan will be about 140,000 N.Z.D. when I graduate. However, our government administers our loans, and we don’t get charged interest (unless you leave the country for more than a year), so I have never felt like I’m being crushed by it.

— Hannah Lochore. Undergraduate tuition: 82,000 N.Z.D. Loans: 140,000 N.Z.D.

In Brazil, postsecondary education attainment increased to 17 percent of young adults in 2015 from 10 percent in 2010, according to the O.E.C.D. This is still one of the lowest rates among O.E.C.D. countries. Access to free public universities is extremely competitive, and the demand far exceeds the number of available spots.

I graduated in 2013, and my college education cost about 100,000 Brazilian real ($25,000) for a full-time degree in economics.

I studied at a private college through a scholarship program funded by the federal government called Prouni (basically meaning “university for all” in Portuguese). This program was developed to help students from poor families have access to university; once selected, you have to prove that your family’s income fits the criteria. The students are selected through a national exam that we take after high school.

Even though there was no tuition, I had to move from the countryside to a city and support myself there. I attended a very expensive college, so I also had to deal with social differences because most of the students were from upper-middle-class households.

— Bruno Henrique Ferreira Paulino. Undergraduate tuition: 100,000 Brazilian real. Loans: $0.

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides free tuition to state and local universities and colleges, as well as state-run vocational schools.

I studied at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a top institution in my country. For my first years, 2014 to 2016, the fees were based on my family’s socioeconomic status. The base fees were about $600 per semester. We were middle class and got a discount of 60 percent, so we paid about $240.

After 2017, because my university is a public one, I enjoyed the benefits of tuition exemption.

The costs affected my career a little. My practicum, the last requirement for my degree in nutrition, was the most expensive, about $1,400. My parents had a hard time attaining this. I will take the exam to be a nutritionist and dietitian in August.

— Kiolo L. Belsonda. Undergraduate tuition: $1,440. Loans: $0.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland, a government entity, covers the full fees of eligible Scottish and E.U. nationals who apply; the payments are sent directly to the college or university. To qualify, students must have chosen a course that is funded by the agency and meet certain residency criteria. The Scottish government also sets the tuition rate for these students. For the 2019-20 academic year, tuition is as high as 1,820 British pounds ($2,300), depending on the program.

I’m a European citizen, so my undergraduate tuition at the University of St. Andrews, from 2012 to 2016, was paid by the Scottish government. My parents paid for my accommodation during those years, and I worked part time to fund all other expenses.

Now, my integrated master’s and doctoral degree is funded through the United Kingdom-based Economic and Social Research Council, Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. This covers tuition and a stipend of about £1,200 a month, which I supplement with part-time teaching and research assistant work at the university, as well as a part-time job in a cafe.

Because university was essentially free for me, I had a lot more freedom to pursue my interests, including further education and academic work.

— Olga Loza. Undergraduate tuition: £7,280. Loans: $0.

The share of Turkey’s population aged 25 and older that had earned a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent increased to 14.8 percent in 2016 from 7.3 percent in 2004, according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics. (In the United States, one-third of adults in 2015 had a bachelor’s degree or more education, according to the United States Census Bureau.)

I attended Bilkent University in Ankara from 2006 to 2012 and didn’t pay for my undergraduate legal education. This was possible due to Turkey’s university entrance exam system. By ranking among the top 100 of more than 1.5 million exam takers, I attended a private university for free.

Both state and private institutions are among the best-ranking universities in Turkey. State universities are usually free or have minimal tuition. To compete with state universities, private institutions offer tuition-free quotas.

The government offers stipends to help cover living expenses. Based on the recipient’s income level, these monthly payments are either loans or grants. Exam takers who rank in the top 100 in different score categories receive three times this monthly amount regardless of their income level. This was how I covered my living expenses without burdening my parents.

Going into law without any cost gave me the opportunity to attain higher middle-class income levels despite my parents’ low- to middle-class income level.

— Mustafa Cetin. Undergraduate tuition: 225,000 Turkish lira ($37,000). Loans: $0.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the average cost of undergraduate tuition for Canadian full-time students was about 6,500 Canadian dollars ($4,800), according to Statistics Canada, a government agency. In 2010, the most recent year with available data, half of all students who earned a bachelor’s graduated with debt; the average was 26,300 Canadian dollars. (In 2018, people in the United States with outstanding education debt typically owed between $20,000 and $25,000.)

The cost of my bachelor’s degree from McGill University was about 6,000 Canadian dollars per year for four years, plus books, student fees and living expenses. In total, it was about 50,000 Canadian dollars for all four years.

My parents and I had saved up for the cost of all school expenses. I worked during the summers to be able to pay for living expenses, and my parents helped me where they could so that I could focus on my studies without taking a part-time job during the school year. Because of the reasonable cost of the education, my parents’ forward-thinking approach and my decisions to work during the summer, I did not experience any financial hardships and I graduated without student debt.

Graduating debt free allowed me freedom of opportunity and choice to find my own path and try out different jobs, including working abroad. I was also able to find the right fit and industry, and to walk away from companies and bosses who treat employees unfairly.

— Casey Reynolds. Undergraduate tuition: 24,000 Canadian dollars. Loans: $0.


Murphy’s Law: $35,237.09 Paid, $50,070.98 Till Pay Off

The past few months have greatly tested my ability to laugh in frustrating moments. I have fallen victim to “Murphy’s Law” in the areas of technology, vacation, transportation and homestead.

Murphy's Law2

I work in the field of education and one of my roles is an adjunct professor. I love what I do and sometimes it is best to follow by the same advice we instructors give students, “Never start work at the last minute.” I had to learn this the hard way as I decided to rest a few days before submitting final grades.

All hell broke loose, my laptop had fan issues, causing overheating and shutdowns. I also downloaded a virus that randomly blocked Wi-Fi internet access. However, I persevered and submitted grades hours before the deadline. The laptop saga ended, it was repaired for $50! SWEET!


My wife and I love Christmas vacations, so much so, we invited two our closest friends for a Christmas cruise. Before we could fully enjoy the exotic sites, people, food, and fun; a four hour drive to Galveston, Texas stood in our way.

We had great friends along for the ride, so we anticipated the 4 hours flying by with laughs and occasional rest stops. Little did I know my ability to laugh in frustrating moments would be tested again…

Have you ever felt like you forgot something important at home while on the highway? Can you guess what my wife and I forgot to pack? You guessed it, we left our passports. We eventually made it home to retrieve them, delaying our arrival time by an hour.


Car troubles always happen in the most inopportune times. My wife affectionately nicknamed our Honda Accord “Purple Rain” because it always needs repair. Annoyed with the constant breakdowns, we bought another car.

We viewed the new car as a bargain until discovering an electrical problem; causing issues with the turning signals, windows and locks. Around the same time, my truck at times would overheat and leak engine coolant.

In the end, the repairs cost us $200 in parts with free labor from my father-in-law. Thank you very much sir, you are a great mechanic.


After repairing the laptop and cars, our washing machine breaks. My wife calls the apartment manager and is told we will receive a new washer. GREAT! Yet, we become victims to “Murphy’s Law” again.

While replacing the washer, the maintenance worker put a hole in the washroom’s wall and soaked our living room carpet with dirty water. We guess the worker made an attempt to mop up the water, as evidenced by wet bath towels in our dryer.


Issues we have in life take time to address. While I felt inconvenienced by my circumstances, these same circumstances led me to people. It was neat spending time with my wife and father-in-law working through frustrations. Until next time folks, press on and God Bless.

Credit Crunch: $34,531.56 Paid, $50,776.51 Till Pay Off

Happy Belated New Year folks!
It is a blessing to be alive and in good health. So much has happened since the last post, so as promised here’s a personal account about credit.
This story starts on a relaxing August evening while visiting my wife’s parents for dinner in 2011. While everyone conversed and gave thanks for the meal being served, my mind raced with questions. What if I lose my job? Will my marriage end in divorce? Is it even possible to pay off $85,308.07? These thoughts were in stark contrast to my outlook on life in December 2010: I was a recent college graduate, landed a great job, and was soaring with feelings of invincibility. After a few short months unfortunately, 2011 arrived with my impending financial doCredit Crunchom. As I sat at the table that night, I felt like the chicken on my plate…DONE.

The warning signs were there four months prior, as I noticed my credit score would fluctuate by as much as 25 points. I created a credit monitoring account and set up text message alerts through Experian. I investigated reasons behind the score changes on Experian’s website, and read that score fluctuation was a normal occurrence, so there was no need for alarm. I dismissed my concern and figured everything was okay, forgoing any further investigation.

Experian is one of the major credit report bureaus, along with TransUnion and Equifax. These guys monitor and report credit scores used to determine your ability to pay back debt. Typically scores range from 300-850. Your chances of being approved to make big purchases on credit (like houses and cars, for example) improve with higher scores. The higher your credit score, the lower the perceived risk for the lender. The lower the credit score, the less likely you are to be trusted with a loan, as you are perceived to be more likely to default on your end of the deal.

After a couple of months of occasional text alerts gradually becoming more frequent, I started to feel something was actually wrong.  I ran over to the nearest computer and logged into Experian’s website. In bold red letters read, “Payment 30 days Late”.  In shock, I realized that it was a student loan company owed. In angst I thought, “I’m already paying over $900 a month, and now they want more?! This has to be a mistake!”  Sadly, it was an oversight on my part, and not an error as I so hoped.

From this experience I’ve learned:
1. Never assume everything is okay.
I ignored the many warnings that I had not kept current with all my student loan accounts.  After discovering the additional obligation, I had to fork up another $90 a month.  For the next seven years I have a late payment attached to my credit report, which lowered my credit score.  Sometimes making that extra call or sending another email can properly inform us of what’s really going on.

2. Keep Calm. Don’t panic.
I worried about insolvency and divorce as a result. Well, I’ve lost jobs and every time the Lord has provided.  My wife is still by my side, and we will celebrate 5 years of marriage next month. The sleepless nights have all proven futile as they did not improve my ability to keep jobs. Nor did stressing about the future make me a better person; ask my wife, it made me grumpy at times.

3. Goals take time to be reached.
Earning degrees don’t happen overnight, neither will paying back the student loan balance. Education taught me to plan and break monstrous goals into smaller tasks.  Graduating from college took focus through each class and each semester before realizing the dream of walking across the stage.  Now the year is 2016, my goal is to one day be debt-free.  I can smile knowing that 85k is not my loan balance anymore.

4. Enjoy life.
We all have places to go and things to achieve. We stop living once we lose hope and have nothing left to live for. 2011 marked a time for me where I didn’t enjoy watching movies, practicing guitar, or playing video games. Taking breaks to discover and engage in hobbies helps relieve stress. So while it is important to work hard, be sure to never forget how to play hard.

That’s all I have for my credit experience. Thanks for stopping by, the next blog post will be entitled “Murphy’s Law”.  See ya!