That’s how much college students, inspired by the robust job market and reports of rising wages, are overestimating the starting salary for their first job.
After they ditch the cap-and-gown for the business suit, undergraduates are expecting to step into a six-figure salary, a survey of 1,000 students taken March 23-26 by online real estate information provider Real Estate Witch showed. But the $103,880 a year they think is waiting for them is 88% higher than the actual average starting salary for recent graduates, $55,260. And many of them will also be facing significant debt: 29% said they racked up more than $50,000 in student loans, while 43% will carry at least $30,000 of student debt into postgraduate life.
U.S. student loan debt reached $1.747 trillion and the average federal student loan balance was $37,113 as of April 10, according to the Education Data Initiative. Yet only 48% of the students surveyed by Real Estate Witch said the debt they took on was worth it, and 40% said they regretted even attending college.
“One of the most common regrets students have is accumulating too much student debt, especially for a degree that doesn’t translate into a well-paying job,” the report said.
President Joe Biden signaled this week that he was considering forgiving some student loan debt, following several pandemic-inspired freezes on student loan repayment obligations and his campaign promise to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt.
College students haven’t always had such optimistic expectations about their first paycheck. Just three years ago, students said they anticipated a $57,964 starting salary, about 23% more than the actual $47,000 median starting salary in 2019.
“The strength of the economy has likely inspired unrealistic salary expectations that will leave students disappointed,” the report said.
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