First Faculty Advisor
Retirement; Student Loans; Financial Literacy
As millennials grow older and begin their careers in the workforce, saving for retirement begins to become an important part of spending. This paper analyzes a variety of factors and challenges that impact an individual’s retirement savings. This thesis ultimately looks to determine whether the driving force for the general inadequacy of retirement savings is student loan debt, financial decision making, or both. Through both research and survey responses, this thesis will also look at whether a public policy that removes a certain percentage of student loan repayment obligations will have any impact on the amount that young workers are saving for retirement based on their financial decisions. Initially, it was believed that student loan debt and retirement savings would be directly negatively correlated. However, after analyzing survey results and conducting research, it is clear student loans and retirement savings are indirectly correlated, with the intermediate variable of financial decisions. The result is segmented thinking regarding finances, instead of an allocation of funds, where income would be delegated to multiple places at the same time. Overarching all of these variables is a lack of financial literacy, driving all of these decisions that have the potential to lead to crisis. Finally, the effectiveness of a public policy depends on deliberate purpose for student loan forgiveness. If the intention is to boost retirement savings, the policy will not fulfill its purpose. However, it will relieve financial pressure from many of those new to the workforce, working with a base salary. It also will allow for more financial freedom instead of constant spending to pay for student loans.