Many Americans saddled with student loan debt regret borrowing money for college, and some report making less than friends who don’t have a degree, a new survey has found.
Sixty-eight percent of the 2,000 people surveyed said they are struggling to make federal loan payments, and 60% are unable to save money.
Student debt caused a third of respondents to delay starting a family, and 64% to put off making a major purchase, such as property or a new car.
“With the cost of college rising faster than inflation, the situation is only getting worse,” said Roman Peskin, founder and CEO of ELVTR, the online education program that conducted the survey.
“Loan forgiveness, while a great initiative, is really just a Band-Aid. Before we dress the wound, we need to stitch it up first.”
The Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program, announced in August, could erase up to $20,000 in debt for tens of millions of Americans.
The forgiveness form was previewed Tuesday, a day before a federal judge started to weigh a lawsuit from six Republican-led states seeking to block the proposal.
In the meantime, many people who have already borrowed money are experiencing some form of buyer’s remorse, Peskin said.
The average public university student borrows $32,880 to obtain a bachelor’s degree, according to Education Data Initiative.
Thirty-six percent of respondents regretted borrowing money for school, 28% said they would choose a different field, and 40% plan to change careers in the future.
More than half of participants said they have experienced mental health issues, with anxiety being the most prominent, due to their debt.
However, results may not be indicative of many other Americans, as only people who have paid to take online courses with ELVTR were invited to respond.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education offers a different reason for declining interest in college, which it says is most prominent among districts with higher concentrations of poverty.
As a whole, public college enrollment has declined by nearly 10% over the past five years in Massachusetts, to 60.4%, according to a department presentation,
An inability to immediately enroll in higher education leads to lower earning potential by the time a person reaches their 30s, the presentation showed.
The average salary was $49,456 for those who went directly to college, $39,527 for those who delayed enrollment, and $37,075 for those who chose not to attend.
The lowest immediate enrollment was seen among Latinos and Black males. Asian-Americans and white females are far ahead of the pack with the highest enrollment.
To close these zip-code based college attainment gaps, the department is putting more of an emphasis on equity initiatives.