Will the Explosion of Student Debt Widen the Retirement Security Gap?


The brief’s key findings are:

  • In 2013, 55 percent of households in their twenties had student debt, with an average amount of $31,000.
  • The question is whether student debt – by reducing 401(k) savings and delaying home purchases – could have a big impact on retirement preparedness.
  • The analysis uses the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI), which measures the percentage of working-age households “at risk” of falling short in retirement.
  • If NRRI households had started out with today’s student debt levels, the Index would be 56.2 percent instead of the already alarming 51.6 percent.
  • The bottom line is that college costs should be included in broader policy discussions over how to improve financial security.


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