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2015 Student Loan Burden Report: One in Seven Americans With Student Loans Have Delayed Marriage Due to Crushing Burden of Student Debt

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Despite Overwhelming Debt Frustration, Only Five Percent of Americans Name Paying Their Student Loan Debt their Top Priority

NEW YORK — American college graduates may have put the right foot forward with their education, but they are off to a rough start where personal ambitions are concerned. The 2015 Student Loan Burden Report revealed that one in seven Americans have delayed marriage due to student loan debt, which does not forecast a promising romantic future.

College-educated Americans with student loans are giving up more than just “I dos” as a result of debt from their education. Key highlights from the report include:

  • 44% of have postponed traveling the world
  • More than one in three (41%) have postponed buying a house or apartment
  • One in four (25%) have had to postpone moving out of their parents’ homes
  • One in nine have delayed their plans to move to New York, one in 11 to Los Angeles and one in five to another major city
  • 47 percent of Americans have put off purchasing a car
  • One in five Americans have put off running their own business
  • Another one in five have been unable to work in their field of study

As 43 million Americans carry student loans, in order to decipher what Americans have given up due to this debt, and what they would do to cancel it, we commissioned research firm YouGov to poll the attitudes of Americans.

Additional top findings from the report include:

  • To reclaim their ambitions by saving money and pay off their student debt sooner, many Americans would go so far as to risk their health, social lives and even love. Of those willing to take action to pay off their debt quicker:
    • Over one in three would cut back on their gym memberships, while 32 percent would elect to have only one haircut per year.
    • Sacrificing their wellness, 31 percent would eat only traditional student staple ramen for weeks (one in nine would eat a tarantula), and one in four would go sleepless for two days.
    • Further cutting out love from their diets, nearly half (46%) would go on fewer dates, and 44 percent would stop partaking in social activities with their friends, for example cancelling trips to the movies.
    • Additionally, 24 percent of Americans would stop wearing makeup in the name of decreasing their student debt. One in four (27%) would stop shaving.
  • Despite their willingness to go to such lengths due to overwhelming loan frustration, in reality Americans rank their student loan debt low on their financial priorities list.
    • Only five percent of Americans with student loan debt name paying off their student loan debt as their number one financial priority.
    • Conversely, more than half of Americans with student loans (53%) rank paying their rent most important.
    • Rent is followed by saving money and paying credit card bills—as one in nine Americans with student loans name putting money into their savings most critical, and one in 11 paying their bills—followed by one in 12 Americans who prioritize paying into a retirement account, such as a 401K.
    • When pitting one financial obligation against the other, 54 percent of Americans with student loan debt prioritize their rent, 44 percent their credit card bill, 34 percent saving money, and 29 percent their retirement account over their student loan repayment.
  • Americans also place precedent on entertainment and relationship expenses, over their student loan debt—
    • Compared to their student debt payments, one quarter of Americans with student loans prefer to pay for their Netflix accounts and other home entertainment.
    • Also, nearly a quarter (23%) prefer to pay for social activities with friends and one in five Americans with a student loan (20%) prefer to take cool vacations.
    • With an eye towards relationships, in actuality one in six (16%) would rather use their spare change to go on dates, with one in 14 (7%) preferring to pay for a dating website subscription and 20 percent for nights out.

“Americans are fed up with their student debt, as evidenced by their delayed life plans and the lengths they would go to in order to get rid of it, if they could,” said Andrew Josuweit. “While a burden, student loans are nevertheless a reality for most Americans. To effectively pay down their debt, students must be knowledgeable of all repayment options available to them. We also encourage starting the loan conversation early – before school even begins. Students must turn college planning from idealistic to realistic, focusing on budget, potential ROI and expected debt upon graduation. If planning correctly, Americans have a better chance of reclaiming their ambitions.”

Research Methodology

LendingTree commissioned YouGov PLC—a third party, professional research and consulting organization—to poll the views of a representative sample of 1,427 adults, 505 of that 1,427 with student loans. Fieldwork was undertaken between July 10 – 13, 2015. The survey was carried out online.


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