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Corn+Soybean Digest

Young People’s Use of Plastic

No, this is not an environmental article as the title may suggest, but a looming problem with young people, some who may be your children or grandchildren. A study by Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading provider of student loans, found the average undergraduate is carrying $3,173 in credit card debt, up from $2,169 in 2004. Graduating seniors have an average balance $4,138, while the average freshman’s credit card balance is $2,038.

Students charged an average of $2,200 in direct educational expenses to credit cards since credit cards have become the lender of last resort. The percentage of students who have credit cards has increased from 67% in 1998 to 84% in 2008.

Fast facts about students:

  • A poll of 25,000 college seniors finds 55% were considering graduate school to avoid getting a job.
  • Twenty-two percent of graduating students would consider failing an undergraduate class so they could stay in college.
  • Thirty-two percent said they were moving back in with parents after graduation.
  • Fifty-five percent spent one hour or less per week searching for a job, and 63% have not had a job interview yet.

By the time you read this, if you have a graduating senior you will know the “rest of the story,” as the late Paul Harvey’s famous quote goes. Good day and have a safe summer!

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at

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