May 16, 2019

Cengage Student Opportunity Index Reveals College Grads Confident in Future; May Need a Reality Check on Forthcoming Earnings, Loan Repayment

The majority of college grads are optimistic about the future despite rising student debt and living costs, according to research on the opportunity environment for recent and near college grads, commissioned by Cengage.

The Cengage Opportunity Index looked at 17 indicators across four categories (economic, employment, social and personal well-being), using existing public data and a survey of 2,500 recent and upcoming graduates. Scores were calculated on both a national and regional level, with grads in the Midwest having the highest opportunity score (101) and grads in the Northeast having the lowest score (97).

Looking at all regions though, near graduates are confident on job opportunities and future salary:

  • 93 percent expected to land a job within 6 months of graduating (only 60 percent actually do),
  • 88 percent believe jobs in their field will increase in the next two years
  • 67 percent expect to meet salary expectations within a year (even if they have to move out of state to get it)

When it comes to student loan debt, about half of respondents said they have debt, with the average debt amount being $22,919, however grads expect it will only take 6 years to pay off their debt.

The impact of the high cost of housing impacted graduates differently across different regions, with 73 percent of grads in the Northeast and West saying they will have to move to buy a home.

More data on the opportunity environment can be found in the Cengage Student Opportunity Index infographic here.