The Lived Experiences of Millennials with Student Loan Debt
This dissertation investigates the lived experiences of Millennials with student loan debt, a growing issue as college enrollment and tuition costs rise. Despite the significant impact of this debt crisis, research on this demographic's experiences is limited. This study fills this gap, aiming to equip mental health counselors with a deeper understanding of the mental health challenges faced by these individuals and to develop strategies addressing the financial aspects of their anxiety and depression. The research, grounded in cognitive learning theory and cultural life script theory, explores motivations for higher education, financial stress, financial literacy, and the effects of student loan debt on major life events, anxiety, depression, and help-seeking behavior. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, revealing five major themes and six sub-themes that encapsulate their experiences. The study underscores the importance of understanding these experiences, given Millennials' significant role in the US economy. The insights can enhance counselors' understanding of this population's needs, guiding effective counseling sessions, and informing targeted interventions, thereby enriching mental health counseling strategies.