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Many Millennials With College Debt Regret Past Decisions

Vast majority would make one or more different choices for scholarship, school or major

A stack of one hundred dollar bills in a money wrapper labeled "Student Loan" on top of a blue graduation cap.  A gold graduation tassel is draped over the stack of money.

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En español | If they had it to do over again, the vast majority of millennials who have had or still have college loan debt would change one or more major choices they made when they began school, according to a new nationwide survey. Some would even have forgone the education. Boomers who took out loans, by contrast, report more satisfaction with their decisions about college.

In addition, the survey of nearly 4,000 adults found that 77 percent of millennials who have had loans “have delayed at least one major life or financial milestone as a result.” Half of boomers in the same position say they’ve never delayed such a milestone event.

For millennials who have incurred debt, 34 percent say they would have sought more scholarship money; 25 percent would have attended a less expensive college; 24 percent would have attended trade school or community college; and 23 percent would have chosen a different field for their major. Nine percent wouldn’t have chosen college at all.

The survey also confirmed that student loan debt has become more common with succeeding generations. Just 10 percent of Silent Generation college students took on debt; the rate is 24 percent for boomers and nearly 4 in 10 among millennials.

Other findings among those who have had student loans:

  • 34 percent are delaying building their emergency savings.
  • 29 percent are delaying retirement saving.
  • 27 percent are putting off paying off other forms of debt, including credit cards.