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Sick of Student Loan Debt and Fed Up with the Shame: How Millennials Really Feel

There’s no sugar coating the current state of student loan debt. It is grim, especially when you read the numbers: Over 44 million Americans hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. Much of the people who owe this debt are
millennials .

The millennial generation is constantly facing backlash, whether it is about the amount of student debt they owe or their “frivolous” spending habits on things like $5 coffees and avocado toast. However, maybe it is possible to have your avo toast and pay off your debt, too.

We wanted to find out how millennials really felt about the stereotypes against them and what they think about their student loan debt, so we polled over 1,000 millennials (ages 22-35)1 across the U.S. to get their opinions and found some surprising statistics.

Get Out of Debt Free Card

Millennials would go to extremes to be rid of student loan debt forever. 50% would be willing to part with their Netflix account forever (goodbye, Stranger Things!) and another 42% would enter a reality show (introducing our newest Bachelorette, Sallie Mae?).

We found another surprising trend when it came to millennials and city living: 62% of millennials surveyed said they would move to a more affordable U.S. city if it meant they would not have to pay off their student debt. In a similar vein, we also asked whether millennials believe the benefits of living in a high-cost city like San Francisco or New York City outweigh the cost of living. A resounding 70% of respondents said no.

Major Life Moments Take a Backseat

52% of the millennials surveyed said they have skipped out on or delayed a major life moment because of the pressure to pay off their student loans first. Not surprisingly, 61% of millennials said they’ve delayed buying a home because of their student loan debt, while another 39% have put off moving to another city or state, and over 35% have put off starting a family.

You’ve Got My Vote – Election 2020 and Student Debt

When it comes to the 2020 presidential election, where a candidate stands on student loan debt is very important to millennials and will likely play a role in how they vote. 48% of those surveyed said student loan debt is one of many factors they will look at when deciding on who the best candidate to vote for is while another 30% said student loan debt is a very important issue to them and that they will vote based on the candidate who has the best plan to eliminate debt.

Did Somebody Say Avocado Toast?

When asked which common millennial spending stereotype they disagreed with most, 23% of millennials said buying avocado toast. Another 21% disagreed with the stereotype that millennials spend too much money on travel and experiences while another 19% said buying fancy coffee was the stereotype that bothered them most.

I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

What is the #1 mistake millennials make when taking out student loans? 42% of respondents said overestimating the salary of their first job out of college and thus assuming they would be able to make their monthly payments. 31% said not understanding the specifics of the loan and the interest rates. 14% said not understanding the repayment options and timeline of repayments and 11% assumed they would have help paying off their student loans after college.

Millennial Milestones, Oh My!

We were really interested in finding out what life milestones are the most significant to our millennial respondents. 35% of them feel that paying off their student loan debt is the biggest milestone a millennial can achieve, followed by 25% who feel that buying a home is the most important. The remaining portion said saving for retirement (17%), starting a family (15%), and starting to invest (4%) are the top milestones for millennials.

When It’s All Said and Done

Despite student loan debt and its subsequent burden, 66% of millennials surveyed said they are grateful for their college education and would not give up going to undergraduate and/or graduate school even if it meant they would be student debt-free. When all is said and done, student loan debt, while a burden, is an obstacle that the millennials we surveyed believe they will ultimately overcome. Whether they have to move to a different city or stop watching Netflix – they are willing to make the sacrifice.

If you read this piece and felt anxious about paying off your student loans, you have come to the right place. At SoFi, we offer student loan refinancing which could help you secure a lower monthly payment, or better repayment terms over the life of your loan so you can tackle your outstanding student loan debt today!

Learn more about SoFi and how we can help you find a plan to start paying off your student debt today.

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1 Based on a SurveyMonkey survey of 1,008 respondents from 08/16/19 to 08/19/19.

The individuals surveyed for this article were not compensated for their participation. This information is educational in nature, is not individualized, and it may not be applicable to your unique situation. It is not intended to serve as the primary or sole basis for your financial decisions.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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