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Survey: College Graduates Struggling to Find Work, Pay Loans

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Just a few years ago, new college graduates had little trouble finding a job within a year of finishing school.  Now, the outlook for those about to jump into the job market isn't so bright.

"It has been a challenge, it really has," says Madeline Rivera, who is about to graduate from Fordham University.  "I've heard that it's getting better out there and I'm sure that's true, but in reality a lot of my friends are still having trouble finding jobs."

A new survey out Thursday seems to affirm that sentiment.  Researchers at Rutgers University found that only half of recent college graduates are working full-time.  The poll was completed last month and included 444 graduates from the class of 2006 through 2011.

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Of those who managed to snag a full-time position, the median salary earned was $28,000, making it difficult for recent graduates to pay off their student loans.  The survey found that 55 percent of students owed an average of $20,000 upon graduation.

As a result, graduates have had to resort to jobs outside of their fields to make ends meet.

"A lot of people have had to do that -- choose something else that will sustain them for now.  You have to pay off loans.  You do what you have to do," says Rivera.

Furthermore, graduates who have landed positions don't feel they are on the right track.  Only 20 percent saw their first job as being on their career path, according to the survey.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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