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Kids staying home after graduation

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Over the past 10 years, the economy has boomed — and so has the number of boomerang kids. Nearly 18 million 18- to 34-year-olds live with their parents, up from some 12.5 million in 1970.

More than half the college students who responded to a June online poll at MonsterTrak.com said they plan to live with Mom and Dad after graduation, and about 20 percent of them plan to stick around for more than a year.

The job picture for young adults isn't nearly as bleak as it was in the early '90s, when Generation X liberal-arts grads entering the labor force in the middle of a recession ended up living at home by default.

People in their twenties have suffered disproportionately from recent dot-com layoffs, but they're back home by choice, and parents seem more comfortable with the arrangement.

Today's parents aren't as embarrassed as they were a decade ago to admit that their kids are back, perhaps because they or their friends have already gone through the transition with an older sibling and are confident that eventually the kids will make it on their own.

Young adults themselves are more inclined to view coming home as a steppingstone to greater financial independence — a chance to pay off debt, save for a down payment on a house or squirrel away capital to start a business.

They're also less adamant about breaking loose from their parents than they used to be. "Young people today are much more approving of their parents," says Neil Howe, an economist and author of several books on generational issues, "and the parents are more comfortable with the culture of their children."

Still, parents will be most successful in dealing with their boomerang kids if they work out a cost-sharing arrangement — and set a timetable for their departure. Rather than charging rent your kids might not be able to afford, you could ask them to cover their share of food and utilities.

Securing health insurance is another top priority. Adding a young adult to a parent's policy usually isn't an option unless he or she is a full-time student under age 23.

Your best bet is a short-term policy from an insurer such as Fortis or Golden Rule. A 22-year-old male living in California, for instance, would pay $130 for a three-month policy from Fortis with a $1,000 deductible.