Occidental College located in Los Angeles, California.

Most of us grow up hearing about the American dream: go to college, get an education, get married, buy a house, and retire at 65. But that dream is far from a reality for many of those with student loan debt, which has become a serious problem in this country. Currently, there are 40 million borrowers owing an estimated $1.4 trillion in student debt. And that burden is now forcing many graduates to put their financial and personal goals on the backburner.

According to a 2016 survey by PwC Employee Financial Wellness, 42 percent of millennials have student loan debt, and 79 percent believe that it makes it more difficult for them to set and meet financial goals. Other generations—such as Gen X and Baby Boomers are also dealing with student debt—and it’s a major issue for all with financial worries becoming a major distraction for 50 percent of employees dealing with this kind of debt.

A big part of that worry is that student loan debt keeps borrowers from living their lives. According to The Student Loan Report, 28 percent of borrowers say that student debt has forced them to put off or delay marriage while 63 percent claim it was affecting their decision or ability to buy a home. And they also have the additional worry of being ill-prepared for the future: 73 percent admitted student debt was affecting their decision or ability to save for retirement.

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It makes sense that all of this stress can affect a person’s overall health. With all of this in mind, lawmakers are trying to find ways to ease the burden of student loan debt. Legislation ranging from tax benefits for borrowers and their employers and new student loan repayment plans has been introduced in recent years. And more companies are trying to find ways to encourage their employees to pay down their student loan quicker. For example, Natixis, a global management firm, began offering student loan repayment assistance to help their employees handle their debt.

Image Copyright © Jeffrey Beall