Student loan debt has increased significantly over the last 20 years, from an average among new graduates in 1996 of $12,850 to more than $35,000 in 2016. This debt is having a lasting impact on the financial, personal and emotional lives of graduates, a recent survey by the Student Loan Report found.
The survey of 1,220 college graduates carrying student loan debt, conducted online between July 2 and July 19, 2016, revealed that the debt is preventing them from pursuing their dreams. Whether it’s buying a home or starting a family to not working in their field of study because they can make more money elsewhere, the impacts of all this debt are very real.
Here are 12 ways student loan debt is holding borrowers back.
1. Saving for Retirement
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) said their student debt was affecting their decision or ability to save for retirement.
2. Taking a Vacation
More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said their student debt restricted their ability to take a vacation.
3. Buying a Home
A majority of survey respondents (63%) said their student debt was affecting their decision or ability to buy a home.
4. Being Embarrassed
More than half of respondents (57%) said they were embarrassed when talking about student debt with friends, family or significant others.
5. Eating Out
Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said their student debt has restricted their ability to eat out.
6. Buying a Car
Forty-seven percent of respondents said their student debt was affecting their decision or ability to purchase a car.
7. Paying Daily Expenses
Keeping up with daily expenses was an issue for 41% of respondents.
8. Choosing a Job
Student loan debt even impacts the job choices of 41% of respondents.
9. Starting a Family
More than a third of respondents (34%) said student debt has forced them to put off or delay starting a family.
Student debt has hindered 32% of respondents’ abilities to go to social events.
11. Getting Married
Nearly a third of respondents (28%) said student debt has forced them to put off or delay marriage.
12. Starting a Business
Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said their student debt is affecting their decision or ability to start a business.
Of course, student loan debt doesn’t have to be all bad. If you make on-time payments and are able to do the same with your other bills, you can build your credit and watch your credit scores improve significantly as you pay down the debt.
If you want to see how your student loans may be impacting your credit, you can get a free copy of your credit reports from each of the major credit bureaus annually. Also, you can look at your free credit scores, updated every 14 days on Credit.com, which will also show you how you’re doing in major credit scoring categories, like payment history.
If you’re already behind on payments, there are some options that can help you get back on track, even if student loan forgiveness isn’t on the table. To get out of default, you can combine eligible loans with a federal Direct Consolidation Loan or you can go through the government’s default rehabilitation program. Under the rehab program, if you make nine consecutive on-time payments (they can be extremely low), your account goes back into good standing, and the default gets removed from your credit report.
More on Student Loans:
- How Student Loans Can Impact Your Credit
- Can You Get Your Student Loans Forgiven?
- Strategies for Paying Off Student Loan Debt
Image: Yasin Emir Akbas