The path to freedom from student debt is a long, winding, and arduous one with no end in sight for millennials. A new survey conducted online in February by research agency TNS on behalf of Citizens Bank found 59 percent of those polled have “no idea” when they will be able to pay back their student debt.
The survey found millennials, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 35, have an average student debt of $41,286.60. That’s significantly higher than the national average amount of debt for college graduates, which the Department of Education determined is $29,400. Not every millennial knew how much debt he or she carries: 15 percent of those polled by TNS said they weren’t sure what their student loan balance was, and more than a third didn’t know what the interest rate is on this debt.
Those polled also had a limited understanding of the intricacies of their student debt. Almost half said they “don’t understand” how privatized student loans work, and 44 percent said they don’t entirely grasp the difference between federal and private student loans. About a third had never even heard of student debt refinancing.
The millennials who are paying down their burdensome debt are cutting down on eating out, entertainment, and vacations to do so, the survey found. Eight percent said they don’t plan to pay back the debt at all, while another 8 percent hope to defer the loan payments by going back to school.
The majority of millennials said they regret taking out as many loans as they did, but a third took it a step further, saying they wouldn’t have attended college at all had they known the extent of the costs in advance.