Borrowers without a bachelor’s degree, women, Black borrowers, and LatinX borrowers are the most affected

As of 2023, 44.3 million adults in the U.S hold $1.7 trillion in student debt due to the rising costs of tuition that have plagued higher education seekers since the mid-20th century. The increased cost of an education plus the amount of debt that many are faced with accumulating in order to receive a post-secondary degree have resulted in steady decline in the perceived value of an education, leaving many borrowers faced with a distressing question: Was it worth it?

To gauge borrowers’ readiness for repayment and better understand their experience in reaching personal, financial and educational milestones,  WGU Labs and Savi partnered to survey a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 student loan borrowers with the assistance of Gallup.

Our findings revealed a grim reality for borrowers — regardless of whether they had earned a credential. Student loans are impacting their mental health, delaying personal and financial milestones, and giving them pause in the value of higher education overall. These repercussions are especially true for African American and/or Black borrowers and Hispanic and/or LatinX borrowers.

The outlook for borrowers is bleak and, as our experts explain in the full report, the only way to solve the student debt crisis is to enact ambitious solutions for long-term systemic change. 

Key Takeaways:
  • 43% of borrowers struggle to repay their loans, more so among Black and LatinX borrowers, borrowers without a bachelor's degree, and women
  • Almost one-quarter of all borrowers reported regret, over 40% experienced stress, 20% reported hopelessness, and less than 40% said their education was worth the financial cost.
  • Student loans prevent financial milestone and the accumulation of financial assets
  • Student loans delay personal milestones like marriage, children and further education

Download the full report below to read more about the effects of student loan repayments on borrowers and strategies to help them, or download our executive summary for brief overview of the findings.