Selena Simmons-Duffin

When parts of the federal government ground to halt this past weekend, Linda Nablo, who oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program in Virginia, had two letters drafted and ready to go out to the families of 68,000 children insured through the program, depending on what happened.

One said the federal government had failed to extend CHIP after funding expired in September and the stopgap funding had run out. The program would be shutting down and families would lose their insurance.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

If Noelle Johnson had a bachelor's degree, she'd be able to live closer to work, she says. She wouldn't have to spend so much of her free time hustling for baby-sitting gigs. She'd shop at the farmers market. She'd be able to treat her sister to dinner for once. She and her husband could go on trips together — they'd be able to afford two tickets instead of one.