Those who do not have parental assistance in their 30s, however, continue to be at a disadvantage. “They are grappling with paying off student-loan debt, their savings might not be as strong because of that, and many are taking care of other family members,” said Iimay Ho, 32, the executive director at Resource Generation, an organization that works with people age 18 to 35 with wealth or class privilege to engage on issues of inequality.
Ms. Ho said there was no way she would have been able to amass the $200,000 she has in net assets if her parents, both of whom immigrated from Taiwan to pursue advanced degrees, hadn’t paid for tuition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, given her close to $100,000 toward buying a condo in Washington, D.C., and continue to give her about $10,000 a year.
For those without parental cash at the ready, there’s often some kind of debt hangover that holds them back in significant ways. Roger Quesada, 34, calls his $65,000 of student-loan debt to Sallie Mae, which incurs $400 a month in interest payments alone, “a jail sentence.” A lapse in his payments ruined his credit, he said, and has hampered his financial and career aspirations.
“It’s been trying to navigate our economy without one of the most important components — good credit — that provides enormous advantages and privileges,” said Mr. Quesada, who grew up working-class in West New York, N.J. “That’s something many in my generation take for granted — graduating debt free.” They also take for granted, he said, financial advice that “native parents with an upper hand economically have. I couldn’t rely on my mother for anything after I left home. She is retired, disabled, barely scraping by, and depends on Social Security. If anything, I need to be helping her.”
It was important to Mr. Quesada that whatever profession he chose would offer a steady income and growth potential for the future. Settling on e-commerce, he is now a merchandising manager at New Avon, earning six figures, he said.
“I’m the son of an immigrant,” Mr. Quesada said. “My life would have been that much harder in Cuba. I feel happy with the success I’ve had.” He lives with his partner in Bergen County, N.J, where his home cost a fraction of what a comparable property would have in New York City, but came with a commute of over two hours to his office in Manhattan.