One of the biggest purchases Americans make could be changing the way they live their lives

Top hat thinkingSteve Bardens / Stringer / Getty ImagesStudent loan debt is affecting Americans across all generations.

College tuition is one of the biggest purchases many graduates will ever made — and it’s costing them their “American Dream.”

In fact, 78% of borrowers agree student debt has impacted their ability to save for retirement, 50% have been held back from buying a house, and 21% are struggling to start a family, according to a 2016 survey from EdAssist that examined the perspective of 1,000 Americans with student loans.

And it’s not just Millennials who are dealing with this burden.

Sixty-five per cent of Baby Boomers still carry debt for their own education and 78% say it affected their ability to save for retirement.

“You would think that far in your career, with that much tenure behind you, you’d have your student loan debt paid off,” Chris Duchense, vice president of client services and marketing at EdAssist, told Business Insider.

Clearly, that’s not the case.

Worries of debt may have kept Americans from pursuing their dream jobs, forcing them to prioritise those that offer higher pay or better benefits — such as student-loan debt repayment programs — instead.

“When borrowers go for a higher-paying job in a field they don’t care about, they might be less engaged and less likely to stay at the job,” Duchense told Business Insider. “A potential employer then misses out on the benefits of the competence, passion, energy, and expertise that drives the company.”

To attract and retain talent, employers may have to start taking this financial burden into consideration.

“If you’re an employer that demonstrates that you understand it, acknowledge it, and will do something about it, then you’re really going to differentiate yourself from the marketplace,” Duchense told Business Insider.

With the current national debt at $1.3 trillion and growing every second, the issue of student debt does not seem like it will subside any time soon.

“All these forces at play are pointing that this is going to be a continuing point of interest and a continuing point of pain for employees,” Duchense told Business Insider.

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