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A Third of All Americans Have Dealt With Student Debt

More than one-third of Americans are paying or have paid student loans and a sizable number of them are delaying other major purchases because of it.

According to a Harris Poll on education issues, 36 percent of all respondents said they are currently paying or have paid student loans in the past. Two-thirds of them said they had delayed spending on or saving money for other things because of the student debt they had.

Nearly two in five (39 percent) said student debt had stopped them from beginning to save for retirement while 30 percent they had delayed buying or leasing a car and the same number said they had not bought a home for the same reason. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they had delayed creating a college fund for their own children because they were still paying their own student debts.

Smaller numbers said they had delayed getting married (14 percent) or having children (13 percent).

Somewhat discouraging is that the percentages of respondents delaying purchases or savings was higher than was the case when a group of respondents were asked the same questions two years ago. The percentage of those who delayed saving for a child's education increased by 9 percentage points while 6 pointst more said they put off purchasing a home and 4 points more said they had not yet started saving for retirement because of their student debt.

Nevertheless, close to two-thirds of Americans surveyed said they believed the investment they had made in their higher education was worth it. Satisfaction was highest among those who attended private, not-for-profit colleges (69 percent), followed by public universities (64 percent), online colleges (61 percent) and private, for-profit colleges (58 percent).

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,273 adults in the United States online the week of July 15.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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