INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 29, 2015) - A new survey reveals the majority of college graduates regret student loan choices.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) released findings Wednesday morning from a telephone survey by Harris Poll of more than 1,000 adults.
It reveals 84% of adults would make at least one change to decisions made about financing education if given the chance to do things over again.
"It did surprise us, especially since this was a wide range of ages," said Kelley Long, a CPA and member of of the Literacy Commission. "Most people over the age of 40 would say they wouldn't have their job without their college degree, so the high percentage of people more than anything, we find, say that they wouldn't have taken on as much debt or they at least would have been more aware of what that really meant for the future when they made that decision."
The new AICPA survey does not show that Americans regret getting an education, however, if given the chance to make education choices again, 54% of U.S. adults said they would attend a less expensive college, and 43% said they would go to a trade school for a specific profession.
Another change Americans would make about their education was delaying a start date in order to build up savings and reduce the amount of required student loans.
"Delaying really depends on your personal circumstances," said Long. "For people who aren't totally ready for college, and there are a lot of people on college campuses that weren't quite ready, it is a good idea as long as you know that you’re going to have the gumption to get up and go after a couple years off and if you’re going to save the money to pay that tuition. Delaying it only make sense if it defrays the cost of the loan."
"College isn't the only option or way to earn a certificate or a degree to have a great, high-paying job. So before you just blindly go to college, if you’re undecided, take a look at what your interests are. There may be a trade school or vocational school or some other type of license that doesn't require that undergraduate degree right away 117 so you can get started on earning money sooner than later."
Long says the U.S. has now surpassed one trillion dollars in student loan debt. Other than mortgages, it's the biggest debt burden in America.
Pete the Planner, FOX 59's Financial Expert, said, "You take any 18-year-old with no credit history, maybe no job, maybe no income and say ‘Would you like to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to live four years on your own with no contact with your parents, would you like to do that?’ and 95% of people are going to nod their head yes. It’s just after the fact that the financial repercussions come into focus."
Pete the Planner says last year's graduates average $30,000 in debt and upcoming graduates will be even more in the hole.
"Too many students today still turn down scholarships at really good schools because they’re harder set on more expensive schools. And we’re getting to the point where that simply isn't prudent anymore."
Pete the Planner suggests considering a college close to home. You can save a lot of money if you're able to commute.
Long suggests considering a trade school.
She says fill out every scholarship and grant form you can find.
She also says to investigate all the loans available to you. Find out if the interest rate is fixed or variable and if the loan is private or federal.
Long says a good rule of thumb is to not graduate with more debt than you can reasonably earn in your first year of your chosen field.