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Photo of students at graduation, with the word ‘DEBT’ and a dollar amount written on top of their graduation caps. (Courtesy Photo)

Today’s college graduates are among the most technologically savvy, socially conscious, and politically astute. They are also, unfortunately, among the most economically plagued, despite having earned college degrees and moderately salaried incomes. In fact, new research by The George Washington University finds that 74 percent of new college graduates are overwhelmed by the debt they incur in obtaining their degrees.

Bank of America in partnership with the Khan Academy recently held a panel discussion pinpointing necessary tools to financially equip a new generation. John Collingwood, director, Federal Government Relations for Bank of America joined NAACP Executive Director of Financial Freedom Center Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and other influential financial thinkers to offer insight into the growing problem of millennial debt, saying nearly 69 percent of young people cite money as a top stressor.

“As millennials come of age at a time of great possibility, many are facing increased financial uncertainty,” Collingwood said. “It is arguably a much greater task to help millennials secure their financial futures than with my generation or even the one that came behind me. And with 51 percent unable to live within their means, it causes a great amount of stress for both them and their parents who may be helping them out of necessity, rather than generosity.”

College graduates in 2014 averaged nearly $30,000 in student debt. Coupled with moderate incomes and unreasonable costs of living in areas like D.C. where apartment rents mimic million dollar house mortgages, Annamaria Lusardi, an economist at the university said new and innovative approaches must be utilized to encourage a different type of financial literacy.

“Debt is so prevalent and it is not just student loans – it is credit card debt and spending debt – and it makes it easy to get in trouble,” Lusardi said. “People turn to family for help, but there is a problem relying on parents for help because they did not necessarily graduate with student loans the way their kids have.”

Asante-Muhammad said that despite having youth and college chapters around the country, the NAACP continues to host various economic education seminars to help better frame how race and economics impact millennial debt. “Everyone is facing this debt, but we show how it is one thing to deal with it when the median White household wealth is $111,000 and allows White parents to support their child’s college debt, versus, African-American and Latino household wealth is roughly $7,000. So the support White families can give their children is a lot different.”

So what is a college student to do with both student loan and credit card debt leaning on them before the ink of their degrees dries? Andrew Plepler, Global CSR executive for Bank of America believes strategic planning and better tools for mobility are a must.

“The opportunity for mobility is a much bigger challenge than other generations. This issue of multi-pronged approach of housing patterns, job opportunities, and financial literacy are important, but there are some deeply rooted problems about social mobility that are going to have to be looked at in an integrated strategy,” Plepler said.