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Student loans weigh on college grads

SCHOOL DEBT: College students are finding that student loans affect their lives as much as their education does, according to a recent survey.

Almost seven out of ten respondents are paying off student loans or have spouses who are, and the average outstanding balance is greater than $29,000. Almost 40 percent of graduates with college debt expect to take more than 10 years to pay off their loans.

Forty-four percent of respondents with college debt have delayed buying a house, while 32 percent have been forced to move back in with mom and dad. More than a quarter have put off a dental or medical procedure because of their financial situation.

Higher interest rates are also weighing on their minds. More than half of those paying off college or graduate school debt believe that continued hikes in interest rates will have a "major impact" on their ability to pay off student debt. Already, 29 percent regularly or occasionally miss payments.

The Internet poll was sponsored by AllianceBernstein Investments Inc. The poll surveyed 1,508 college graduates ages 21 to 35.

TIME OFF: Most employees are scheduling some much-needed R&R this year, according to one survey.

Three quarters of employees surveyed are planning a vacation this year, with 27 percent heading to the beach. Fifteen percent will travel overseas, while fourteen percent will stay home or visit relatives.

Of those opting out of vacation time, more than half say they can't afford a vacation, while 34 percent are job-hunting. One of out five reported not taking a vacation in the last three or more years.

While gas prices may discourage some vacations, according to half of the respondents, employers do not. A majority of respondents, 80 percent, feel that their employers encourage them to take time off. A similar survey in 2004 found that nearly half felt that way about their employers.

When applying for a position, 91 percent say that the amount of vacation time offered is somewhat to very important. Seven out of ten believe that three to four weeks is a reasonable amount of vacation time.

The survey, which polled 400 employees in April, was conducted by TrueCareers.

HAPPY WORKERS: In just six months, American workers are showing more confidence in their job security, according to a survey.

More than 80 percent of workers believe there's little to no chance they could lose their job in the coming year, an increase of five percent in six months, according to a survey by Right Management.

"The slow-moving economic recovery finally seems to be taking root in workers' minds," said Eileen Javers of Right Management. "Six months ago, when we last conducted this national survey, Americans were reeling from the devastating news about Hurricane Katrina. That concern resulted in worker pessimism."

Only three out of ten expect unemployment to rise this year, down from 45 percent half a year ago. More than half think they may advance at their current company.

Right Management surveyed more than 1,000 full-time American workers. Additionally, the company polled workers in 17 other countries, with Germany scoring lowest on the company's Career Confidence Index at 46 and Norway the highest at 75.

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