More than one-third of students plan to live at home after graduation to pay off loans

By Courtney L. Vien

If your children are in college, don’t rent out their rooms just yet. According to a recent AICPA survey, more than one-third (37%) of students with loans say their loan debt means they will need to live with their parents after graduation. Students foresee delaying or changing other major life goals due to loan debt as well:

  • 40% said student loan debt would make it hard for them to buy a home;
  • 37% said they might need to find a job outside their field of study;
  • 31% said they would put off having children;
  • 29% said it would be hard to save for retirement; and
  • 26% said they would postpone marriage.

Though student loans can be a major financial burden, few students were aware of the extent of their loans, the survey found. More than one-third of students said they had a “vague idea” (21%) or “no idea” (15%) of the total loans they would need to repay upon graduation. Only 22% of students knew the exact amount of their loan debt, while 43% said they had a “general idea.”

Almost one-quarter of students either didn’t know how long it would take them to pay back their debt (18%) or said they had never thought about it (6%). The majority (59%), however, believed they would be able to pay off their loans in less than 10 years.

The survey, which was conducted in August, polled 751 students enrolled in college for the fall of 2015. A total of 357 respondents had loans.

The National CPA Financial Literacy Commission advises students to:

  • Avoid accruing more total debt than they expect to earn in their first year after graduation in the field they are majoring in;
  • Obtain all the “free money” they can through scholarships and grants before taking out loans;
  • Discuss scholarships with a financial adviser at their school; and
  • Understand the difference between paying off federal and private loans.

For more advice on college loans, students can visit the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy webpage at 360financialliteracy.org. The AICPA is also hosting a free webcast on financial literacy for college students, parents, and student-loan borrowers on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. ET.

Courtney L. Vien (cvien@aicpa.org) is an associate editor for the AICPA.

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