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When the economy crashed, many people went back to school out of necessity — they lost jobs and scuttled for cover in graduate school. Younger millennials saw college-graduated elder siblings laid off, so they studied for GMAT and LSAT exams right after graduation, not yet prepared to compete with mid- to late-twenty somethings for entry-level jobs.

The financial crisis impacted millennials as saliently as did the Internet. Seeing their parents lose savings, or suffer through unemployment, made them a thrifty generation — a slice of the population that shares its resources and has no problem calling mom and dad “roomies” to save a buck.

Will debt define this generation?

As suppressing student debt continues to linger over their heads , long-standing social and economic milestones like marriage, family and home ownership are deliberately delayed, defining a new subset of “not-quite-a-grownup” post-graduate life stage. Yet millennials still rank paying off debt and saving for retirement their highest financial priorities.

So the question is, will debt define this generation? Or will optimism and the entrepreneurial spirit that made tech and the sharing economy thrive breed alternative approaches to overcoming debt and building wealth in the private markets?

The student debt crisis spurred innovations in the lending space, giving rise to platforms like Prosper, offering peer-to-peer lending; WeFinance, providing crowdfunded loans with terms set by the borrower, geared toward graduates; and Givling, a video game costing a small fee that pays off users’ student debt in the order they sign up.

Click here to read the full article on #TechCrunch!