Amid pandemic, millennials increasingly believe their student debt was not worth college
A new series from Morning Consult takes a closer look at how the coronavirus pandemic could permanently alter the behavior of millennials and how, in turn, this could impact the economy as a whole. The data are taken from a survey of 4,400 adults, including 1,287 millennials.
As the coronavirus pandemic shakes the job market, millennials are increasingly deciding that their college experience is not worth the student debt they incurred for it.
Since the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic-related shutdowns, the unemployment rate has climbed to 8.4% and initial jobless claims have risen to 870,000 for the week ending September 19. And the relief offered to consumers earlier in the pandemic in the form of unemployment benefits and stimulus payments are unlikely to reappear as discussions in Congress on another economic stimulus package are stalled indefinitely.
All of this has contributed to a darker job market compared to the last time Morning Consult tested attitudes on student debt and college.
At the time, more than half (56%) of millennials who took out student loans said it was worth going to college. This survey was conducted from March 13 to 17, 2019, about a year before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a new investigation conducted from September 8 to 10, about six months after the start of the pandemic, that share fell 10 percentage points: 46% of millennials said their student debt was worth going to college.
Almost half of Millennials, at 45 percent, now say their college education is not worth their debt, compared with 42 percent who said the same in 2019. Twenty-six percent of Millennials said their college time their student loans were not “really” worth in the most recent survey, up from 19% last year.
Among all adults who took out student loans, the trend was similar, but not as pronounced. Fifty-four percent said their student loans were worth their college education in the September 2020 survey, down 7 points from the 61% who said the same in 2019.
The overall adult category was also less likely to regret loans, with 37% saying their student debt was not worth going to college in the latest survey, while 35% said the same in the 2019 survey.
Millennials in both surveys were the generation least likely to look favorably on their student debt and college degrees. Compared to Millennials at 46 percent, 51 percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of Baby Boomers said taking out student loans was worth going to college.
The September and March surveys covered 1,333 and 1,326 adults who took out student loans, respectively, and each had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Millennials who took out student loans totaled 518 and 441, respectively, and both had a margin of error of 4 points.