New Report Details ‘Disastrous Domino Effect’ of Student Debt
As student debt moves past the $1.5 trillion mark, a new survey details the extensive damage that student debt has on millions of Americans.
A new report details the disastrous extensive impact of student debt on millions of Americans. Repaying student loans has become so difficult, many Americans put off moving forward in their lives and struggle with mental health issues. In the study titled Buried in Debt, researchers found that total student loan debt now exceeds $1.5 trillion and has tripled since 2005.
The study was done by Student Debt Crisis and Summer, both organizations work in the field of student debt. The study surveyed 7,095 people from across the U.S. who took out student loans. Of those surveyed, the average income was $60,000 per year but the average student debt owed was $87,500. Respondents reported they put off getting married, raising children, buying a home or car and also caring for their health.
The Disastrous Effects of Student Debt
One respondent said she frequently contemplates selling off everything she owns and living in her car to free up some money to clear her debt sooner. Many of the student loan debtors have no savings, and saving for retirement is only a pipe dream. Some borrowers reported they have contemplated suicide.
Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, told Forbes the stories of hardship are not unusual. “We do get stories of borrowers who are struggling with the idea of suicide,” she said. “These are not people who tried to get rich quick; these are not people looking for a handout. It’s so disheartening that they have not only received no help from the current administration, it has been rolling back or eliminating programs designed to protect them.”
According to Abrams, it’s not only young people affected by student debt but people in their 60’s who are still struggling to repay student debt.
“The reality of the day-to-day crisis is staggering. The average borrower has under $1,000 in savings, and 80% cannot save for retirement. And we are not just talking young people — we’ve talked to many borrowers in their sixties who are still trying to pay off their student loans and are worried they will never have enough to retire.”
Adams added that debtors continue to struggle because the Trump administration “has been rolling back or eliminating programs designed to protect them.”
According to the Buried in Debt report:
- 80% can’t save for retirement
- 56% can’t save for a home
- 42% can’t save for a car
- 50% can’t donate to charity
- 85% of borrowers say they suffer depression because of the overwhelming debt
To break this down further, the Buried in Debt report reveals that nine in 10 student loan debtors can’t repay; most do not have significant savings; some have their salaries or Social Security payments seized; many have defaulted on student loans; and one in three said their repayment bill is higher than their rent or mortgage.
“These survey results reveal that student loan borrowers are on thin ice, and many are falling through without a lifeline,” said Will Sealy, the founder and CEO of Summer, to Forbes magazine. “That means that millions of Americans face financial calamity, with all the limitations and stress that come with it.”
Predatory Student Loan Companies
Adding to the problem, student loan providers have been prosecuted for predatory practices, making repayment extremely difficult, even impossible.
This week 19 states and Washington D.C. signed a letter addressed to Education Secretary Betsy Devos asking her to discharge the debts of eligible borrowers according to a recent court ruling. The states are asking Devos to comply with a 2016 court ruling that automatically discharged federal student loans for anyone who attended a school that closed on or after Nov. 1, 2013.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal accused the Department of Education of “dragging its feet on discharging hundreds of millions of dollars in student loans.”
“It should not have taken a federal court order for the agency to comply with its own rules, but now that the court has ruled, it’s time for Secretary (Betsy) DeVos to do the right thing and relieve affected borrowers of their student loans,” said Grewal in a press release.
Hopeless and Defeated by Student Debt
In the stuyd, one Pennsylvanian respondent said she felt frustrated and completely defeated because of the stress of not just paying but paying with her balance seemingly unaltered.
“My student loans have prevented me from really living,” she wrote. “They stress me out more than I can explain. I pay and pay and pay, and the balance never seems to go down. Two of my loans have interest rates of 15%, and I have a third loan at 12%. I put almost two full paychecks towards my loans a month. It’s frustrating and honestly makes me feel completely defeated.”