(Photo via TD Bank)

TD Bank Survey Finds Americans Spend More Than 20% of Their Take-Home Pay on Student Loan Debt, Impacting their Long-Term Financial Health

Originally posted on newscenter.td.com.

The student debt crisis is dominating the headlines, especially ahead of the 2020 elections with many candidates discussing what to do about the $1.56 trillion in debt facing 45 million borrowers across the nation.  Regardless of future policies, today’s young adults say their loan payments have a dramatic impact on their day-to-day finances, putting their longer term financial health in question, according to TD Bank’s Student Debt Impact Survey.

TD Bank’s survey asked more than 1,000 Americans who paid off or are currently repaying student loan debt, ages 18 – 39, how this debt impacts their lives and the factors they considered before taking out the loan.

The findings clearly show that debt for higher education is significantly affecting consumers’ current and future financial security. In fact, the average total student debt held by those surveyed is $26,495, with the average debt payment at $579 a month. With a reported average monthly take home pay of $2,689, one-in-five dollars of their take-home pay is spent on repaying student debt.

Furthermore, 61% of respondents expect to repay their student loans for four or more years after graduating, while 24% expect to repay their loans for 10 years or more, indicating that loan holders’ paychecks will be impacted for years to come.

No Way to Save for a Rainy Day

The financial burden of student loans is also significantly hurting Americans’ ability to save and invest. Six-in-ten respondents (61 %) save 10% or less of their income per month – 20% are not saving anything each month.

“The results of our survey show that student loans can have a ripple effect on borrowers’ financial futures,” said Mike Kinane, Head of US Bankcard at TD Bank. “Consumers owe money before they even earn their first paycheck, which is troubling.”

Beyond saving, Americans with student loan debt also face financial stress when it comes to daily expenses like grabbing a meal out or hitting the gym. Because of student loans:

• 54% of respondents say they have maxed out credit lines
• 35% dine out less often
• 60% do not take vacations
• 20% haven’t joined a gym

Perhaps most telling about the pressures of repaying student loan debt: nearly half of Americans surveyed (46%) reported they would not make the same decision about their education if given the chance. Of those, 15% stated they would choose a less expensive school; 20% would take out fewer loans and pay for the rest a different way; and 11% would not take a loan at all.

Failure to Launch 

Borrowers say they delayed traditional markers of adulthood to manage the financial strain caused by student debt. Millennials have been accused of shaking up the housing market and favoring unconventional marriage practices and family lifestyles. Student loans may play a role – TD’s survey found that due to student loans, millennials delayed the following:

• Buying a home (36%)
• Contributing to a 401(k) plan (41%), a rainy-day fund (43%) or other investments (42%)
• Getting married (21%)
• Having kids (26%)

“The reality is many Americans need to take on student loan debt to finance higher education, but most are unaware of how it will impact their lives for the long-term,” Kinane said. We’re seeing an alarming lack of education surrounding student loans, repayment terms and borrowers’ earning potential after graduation.”

TD’s survey found student loan borrowers overwhelmingly lack education about the impact of loans on their credit health, as well as how to keep up with payments and save for the future.

“Unfortunately, in many cases, we’re having these conversations with borrowers after they’ve already accumulated significant student loan debt and are seeking another financial step such as obtaining a credit card, a mortgage or a personal loan,” Kinane said. “In some cases, student debt will prevent a consumer from taking that next financial step. The conversation around repayment is more important than the conversation around obtaining the loan, but young consumers aren’t getting this information when they need it most. Prospective borrowers should carefully weigh the current cost of education with their future earnings potential and outlook.”

Survey Methodology
The study was conducted by research company Maru/Matchbox. Respondents were composed of a nationally representative sample of 1001 American panelists, aged 18 to 39 who pursued tertiary education. A random sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. The survey was fielded from June 17th and 27th, 2019.

About MARU
Maru/Matchbox is a professional services firm dedicated to improving its clients’ business outcomes. It delivers its services through teams of sector-specific research consultants that have technology in their DNA, specializing in the use of Insight Community and Voice of Market technology. Maru/Matchbox research drives decision-making across all aspects of customer experience, including innovation, product, branding, commercialization and communications.

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