You know what they say about college: It's the best of times, and the worst of times. The pros? You get to wear sweatpants all day (everyday if you want), and there's always a place to eat — hello! But then there are things like student loans, which can be a real pain following graduation. Here's how much student loan debt 406 women have after finishing college and let's just say... it's a lot. Bustle Digital Group took a poll to find out from our readers, and the numbers are pretty telling.
At a time when college students are raking in billions of dollars in debt, the findings from a poll of 481 Bustle Digital Group readers age 18-30, conducted between May 2 and May 16, are definitely interesting. The poll found that 84% percent of respondents, all women, have student loan debt, ranging as low as $1,000 up to more than $100,000.
Out of the 406 participants who had debt, 6% said they have between $1,000 and $5,000 worth of student loan debt; 4% said they have between $5,000 and $10,000; and 19 percent wrote that they owe between $10,000 and $20,000.
But most of the respondents were at the higher end of the scale: 38% percent owe between $20,000 and $50,000; and 22% have to pay back between $50,000 and $100,000. At the highest end of the scale, 10% of participants owe more than $100,000.
If you've ever found yourself wondering who has more student debt than you, it looks like the answer is: lots of people.
So, how much are their repayments? While some people have gotten seriously lucky with low rates, others are paying amounts that are probably equivalent to your rent (or even higher). According to the poll, 20% of participants said they pay less than $100 monthly for student loans (where did I go wrong?); 55% pay between $100 and $500; and 13% make payments between $500 and $1,000.
Here's where things get wild. Three percent of people said they pay between $1,000 and $2,000 in student loans, and 1% said they pay more than $2,000. I probably speak for all of us when I say that that's unfathomable, but on the bright side, 1% also said that they've paid their student loans off completely, so I guess it's doable?
With such high repayments, it probably won't come as a shock that most of the participants said that they didn't think their college education was worth their debt. While 33% of people said it was, 49% said it wasn't. The remaining 18% were unsure.
The findings are pretty in line with several other polls on student debt. For example, a 2019 report by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave that surveyed over 2,700 young adults found that 36% of college graduates paying off student loans say that the debt is not worth it. A smaller report shared the same year by GoBankingRates came to similar conclusions, finding that out of roughly 500 participants, 42% said their degree is not worth the debt. While there are, again, a bunch of perks that come with a college degree, I can't say that I blame them, considering American student loan borrowers collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt (as of March 2019).
Not the best news, for sure. And unfortunately, there appears to be little action to solve the student loan debt crisis. In March, the Trump administration proposed changes to the Higher Education Act, which would reduce the number of repayment options, eliminate public service loan forgiveness and put a cap on the amount of student loans that parents and graduate students can take on. The change seemingly reduces borrowers' options, especially for middle and lower-class people who rely on loans to stay afloat in school.
But some people have announced efforts to tackle the problem — like White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). In addition to proposing free tuition at two and four-year institutions, Warren announced a plan in April that would cancel debt for 75% of Americans. Under it, borrowers with a household income less than $100,000 would have $50,000 of their debt canceled. But critics have suggested that the plan isn't feasible.
With the national student loan debt swelling, it seems like there will have to be some kind of action in the future. Judging from this poll, it looks like many people could benefit from that sooner rather than later.