54% of Americans Experience Mental Health Issues Due to Student Debt

A new study also finds that the majority of Americans regret their higher education choices.
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  • More than 1 in 3 Americans regret taking out loans to fund their education.
  • Nearly a quarter of borrowers have doubts that incurring student debt for their education was a good investment.
  • The majority of educated Americans say they earn less than their friends without a degree.

Student loan debt impacts millions of borrowers across the country. And a new study by virtual learning platform ELVTR finds that the majority of Americans (54%) have faced mental health issues directly related to this debt.

The study surveyed 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 67 with at least some higher education experience and found that borrowers have suffered from anxiety (56%), depression (32%), and sleepless nights (20%) because of student debt.

Mental Health Issues Experienced by Student Loan Borrowers as a Direct Result of Their Debt

More than 3 in 4 respondents (77%) additionally say that they regret their higher education choices, with more than 1 in 3 (36%) specifically expressing regret about taking out loans to fund their education.

Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) also say they doubt borrowing money for school was a good investment. And if given the chance to do things over, at least 25% say they would have spent less on it.

Some of these regrets may be due to disappointing career outcomes.

More than a third of Americans say they regret their choice of profession (36%). And an even larger number (60%) say they earn less than their friends without a degree — a shocking statistic considering that the historical purpose of a college education is to increase an individual's economic mobility.

Another factor contributing to Americans' regrets over their higher education choices may be the recent shifts in the importance of a college degree. Though 70% of respondents believe their educational experience is currently in demand, just 60% believe that it will be in demand 10 years from now.

Employers have already begun to abandon degree requirements in favor of specific skill sets. And younger generations are increasingly expressing less trust in a traditional higher education experience. Instead, they are more likely to be open to nontraditional education programs.

As the image of higher education continues to decline, it's not at all unlikely that its importance in the hiring process will soon follow.

In the meantime, however, young people are still expected to have high levels of educational attainment in order to secure a well-paying job. And the affordability of higher education is only worsening.

Amid President Joe Biden's recently released plan to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, the cost of college is still continuing to rise. Until those costs are addressed, the student debt crisis will only continue.