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4 charts that show just how big a deal student debt is

  • Student debt hit historical highs in 2019 with $1.5 trillion in outstanding loans.
  • A new survey by Pillar asked people just how far they'd go to get rid of their loans.
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4 charts that show just how big a deal student debt is

Student debt is heavy on Americans. 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. It's impacting job prospects, career paths, and mental and physical health.

Fintech has stepped in to help. Firms like CommonBond are helping to turn student loan repayment into an employee perk. Personal finance app Digit recently launched student loan repayment automation.

Pillar, a personal finance app that helps people pay off their student loan debt faster, conducted a survey of 1,190 student loan borrowers across the US to find out how far they would go to get their student loan debt paid off in 2020.

Individual borrowers

Source: Pillar
  • Pillar surveyed 1180 student loan borrowers across the U.S.
  • The majority of responses came from middle America versus the coasts. New Yorkers participated at a higher rate than did people living in California.
  • Respondents have on average $44,000 in student loan debt left to pay off

Over the past three decades, the average cost to attend a public four-year institution has more than tripled, and more than doubled at private four-year schools, according to The College Board.

What would you do to get out of debt?

Source: Pillar

The Pillar survey asked people what they would do in order to get their loans paid off. Their answers were pretty interesting:

  • 63% would vote for Kanye West as President
  • 58% would change their name to Baby Yoda
  • 51% would lick peanut butter off Trump's toes
  • 44% would chug a gallon of rotten milk
  • 34% would lick the bathroom floor of a frat house

What would you give up to have your loans paid off?

Source: Pillar

The survey also inquired as to what people with student debt would be willing to give up in 2020 to make that happen:

  • 67% would give up Social Media Apps (FB, IG, Twitter, TikTok)
  • 64% would give up Alcohol
  • 60% would give up all streaming services (Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Hulu)
  • 52% would give up all ridesharing services (Uber, Lyft, Via)
  • 45% would give up all music services (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora)
  • 39% would give up sex
  • 95% of respondents were female with an average age of 32 y/o 

What else would you do?

Souce: Pillar

Stress under student debt is real. When asked what else they might do to get out of debt, respondents answered some pretty extreme things. Some of those included:

  • I would go streaking
  • I'd wear a wedding dress everywhere for a week
  • I'd tattoo brands on my body for paid sponsorship
  • I would do literally anything short of harming a living thing

While the first two responses were likely tongue in cheek, the second two really show the extent people with the stress of student debt are willing to go to alleviate it.

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