Adults in the United States who hold student debt owe $24,155 on average and many regret being in that position, Northwestern Mutual reported Wednesday.
Forty-two percent of participants in the firm’s 2020 planning and progress study said they would not take a student loan if given a chance to rethink their decision.
The study showed that a quarter of Gen Z and millennials held student debt, compared with 16% of Gen X. Younger debt holders had lower averages than older ones:
- Gen Z: $15,798
- Millennials: $21,367
- Gen X: $34,075
Not only that, younger generations appeared to be more optimistic about how long they expected to hold their student debt.
Nearly half of both Gen Z and millennials said they expected to pay off their student debt within one to five years, compared with only one-third of Gen Xers.
Eleven percent of Americans with student debt overall said they would be holding their student debt for more than 20 years.
“Student loans are often a great way to make higher education accessible and affordable, but it’s important to approach any decision about debt as part of a long-term financial plan,” Christian Mitchell, chief customer officer at Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement.
“These findings offer hints that younger people are aware of the long-term implications of carrying student loan debt and are taking steps to tackle it early. Those instincts are promising and will be critical at a time when so many Americans are facing a period of financial recovery.”
The Harris Poll conducted an online survey between Feb. 12 and Feb. 25 among 2,650 American adults, and a second wave among 2,077 adults between April 29 and May 1.
Other Student Loan Findings
According to the survey findings, 40% of respondents lacked a good understanding of the implications of taking on student debt when they elected to seek a loan.