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New Survey Highlights Struggles Among Student Borrowers

A new BPC/Morning Consult poll confirms what many already assume—that student debt negatively impacts borrowers’ lives in various ways and that better information is needed to inform their decision-making.

Unsurprisingly, millennial borrowers face outsized challenges. The Great Recession hit right as this generation was coming of age, disproportionately hampering their long-term financial prospects.  Total outstanding federal student debt has also ballooned over the past decade, during which many millennials were enrolled in postsecondary education.

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The survey also finds that even as borrowers indicate an awareness of the costs associated with their loans, many desire more information to make good decisions.

  • 89% of student loan borrowers say they are aware of their student loan costs.
  • 55% indicate that they do not know the interest rate on their student loan(s).
  • 34% are not confident that they are making repayment decisions in their best interest.
  • 69% would like to learn more about available repayment options.

Considerations for Policymakers

Survey respondents were also asked about policy measures aimed at promoting affordability and transparency in higher education. The results show widespread support:

  • Affordability: 69% of respondents believe that the federal government should provide additional money to the states in order to reduce tuition prices.
  • Transparency: 81% of both Republicans and Democrats agree that students have the right to know how much colleges spend on recruitment, marketing, and other activities not directly related to the success of the students.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Higher Education Financing and Student Outcomes recently released a package of recommendations aimed at promoting access, affordability, and accountability in the U.S. higher education system.

The survey had a national sample of 2,200 adults, and a sample of 1,000 adults with student loan debt. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, +/- 3 percentage points among adults with student loan debt, and +/- 5 percentage points among millennial borrowers.

Read the national survey toplines

Read the national survey crosstabs

Read the toplines from the survey of adults with student debt

Read the crosstabs from the survey of adults with student debt

Read the Morning Consult analysis memo

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