DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove resident Annie Kasinecz says she hopes to use her recent appearance on the cover of the New York Times Magazine as an opportunity to draw attention to student loan debt, and the mounting burden it is placing on America's young people.
She was the lead subject in the magazine story titled "It's Official: The Boomerang Kids Won't Leave," published in June, and was subsequently interviewed on two national TV news programs.
"I feel like a lot of times we hear about student debt and it's from the eyes of a news reporter or an older, privileged person," Kasinecz, 28, said. "So I think it's really important that we're seeing it through the yes of our generation.
"It's empowered me to take action to do more."
Like one in five people in their 20s and early 30s, Kasinecz lives at home. The Times story summarizes her time after graduating from Loyola University Chicago – a series of unsatisfying jobs, struggling to make payments on $60,000 in loans, and eventually moving back home with her mother almost five years ago.
Beyond the one-in-five living at home, 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from their parents, according to the story. The Times says both are "significant" increases from the previous generations. The story cites the overwhelming debt faced by recent college graduates – 45 percent of 25-year-olds have outstanding college debt above $20,000 – along with the recession, as possible explanations.
The story also posits several theories regarding whether the trend will continue, grow or reverse, in addition to profiling other young adults in similar positions to Kasinecz.
She said the decision to move home was motivated by financial means, her mother's struggle with cancer, and also the promise of figuring out what she wants to pursue. While the Downers Grove resident is working for a project management group, she said after five years at home, she's no closer to finding a long-term plan.
"I have a great roommate, if you want to call her that," Kasinecz said. "And it's become really comfortable. I think it does become a crunch sometimes. I'm trying to get in the habit of saving. I'm trying to improve myself all around."
In the meanwhile, she's started a website, BoomerangAnnie.com, that she hops to help guide college bound students towards and more prosperous future.
"I want to be an advocate for this issue," she said. "I want to create a public forum where (young people) can come ask questions about 'Where do I find resources for student debt. Should I take out student debt.'"
Kasinecz added that she now owns her past decisions, and is no longer embarrassed when she tells a date or friend that she lives at home. That thick skin was necessary to read some harsh user comments below the New York Times story.
"I don't have the time for the negativity," she said. "Yes I have chosen this path to move back home. Maybe I could have not taken out these loans. I'm gong to take the situation as it is, learn from it and try and rise above it."