There’s no two ways around it: Student debt stinks. But a newly released survey shows that carrying this kind of loan can feel crushing, affecting debtors’ everyday lives in big ways—like preventing them from pursuing their dream jobs.
EdAssist, in conjunction with Kelton Global, surveyed 1,024 Americans with student debt to find out how affected they are by their loans. They found that the majority of debtors—from brand-new graduates to baby boomers on the edge of retirement—are negatively affected by their student loans, with 72 percent reporting their debts impact their everyday lives.
Specifically, student debt has caused 49 percent of the respondents serious stress. In fact, many are so stressed they’d happily put aside other financial needs—such as paying down credit card debt or saving up for retirement—if it meant getting help with their student loans.
About 82 percent of people say their student debt is holding them back from major life milestones: 56 percent say it’s kept them from buying a car and 50 percent say they can’t afford a house. It’s affecting debtors’ relationships, too, with 77 percent reporting their student loans have negatively impacted their love lives: 49 percent delayed an engagement or marriage, and another 21 percent said they’re struggling to start a family thanks to student debt.
What’s more, about 77 percent said their debts have made it difficult to live their lives the way they want. How so? About 85 percent of the respondents said they want to earn additional degree, but three in five—or 64 percent—said they simply can’t go back to school because of their current student debts.
Scarier still? 37 percent of respondents admitted they were forced to give up their dream jobs because of their student debts, while 58 percent said the need to pay those loans down could force them into a higher-paying—but less desirable—job. And 33 percent said they would take any job just to pay down the debt.
“Rather than opening up pathways to success, in some cases, these big education bills are having the reverse effect,” Chris Duchesne, vice president of EdAssist, said in a statement. “The amount of student debt people are carrying is costing them in dreams and ambition, and potentially costing employers in creativity, innovation, and the next big idea.”
Of course, many companies are catching on and offering to help employees with their student debts. (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Natixis Global Asset Management, and Fidelity Investments are just a few big businesses to get on the bandwagon.) Here’s hoping more companies follow their lead—and soon.