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Most student loan borrowers have delayed major life events due to debt, recent poll says

Student loan debt has caused most borrowers to put off major life events such as buying a home or getting married, a study has found.

According to the Lumina Foundation-Gallup 2024 State of Higher Education study, which was released Wednesday, 71% of all currently enrolled college students or previously enrolled students who left their program before completing it say they have delayed at least one major life event because of their student loans.

The study found that among previously enrolled students, 35% say their loans have kept them from reenrolling in a postsecondary program and finishing their degree.

Graphic explainer: How are college costs adding up these days and how much has tuition risen?

Buying a home tops list of delayed events

Purchasing a home is the most commonly delayed event, named by 29% of borrowers, while buying a car, moving out of their parents' home and starting their own business followed closely behind. Fifteen percent of those borrowers also report they have delayed having children because of student loans and another 13% have delayed getting married, the study found.

Demographics of those delaying life events

According to the study, male borrowers are slightly more likely than female borrowers (76% vs. 64%, respectively) to report they have delayed a major life event because of loans.


Delay rates are also slightly higher for 26- to 35-year-old borrowers (77%), "likely because they have entered a life stage in which these events are more relevant than for younger borrowers and because they generally have higher amounts of student loans than their older peers," the study found.

The amount of student loan debt is also a factor in the delaying of major life events. The study found that "borrowers with higher amounts of student loan debt are far more likely than those borrowing lesser amounts to say they have delayed purchasing a home, buying a car, moving out of their parents' home or another major life event."

More than 9 in 10 of those who have borrowed at least $60,000 in student loans say they have delayed one or more major life event, according to the study.

However, even relatively modest student loan amounts were found to have an impact: 63% of those who have borrowed less than $10,000 say they have delayed major live events.

How the study was done

The study was conducted from Oct. 9 to Nov. 16, 2023, via a web survey with more than 14,000 current and prospective college students. Among those were more than 6,000 students enrolled in a post-high school education program, 5,000 adults not currently enrolled with some college but no degree, and 3,000 adults who had never been enrolled in a postsecondary school or program.

Student loan relief: Biden announced $7.4 billion in student loan relief. Here's how that looks in your state

President Biden announced $7.4 billion in student loan relief last week

President Joe Biden announced another batch of student loan forgiveness last Friday for 277,000 borrowers. The canceled debt adds up to $7.4 billion.

Most of those borrowers signed up for the president’s signature income-driven repayment plan – Saving on a Valuable Education, or SAVE. Through SAVE, people who originally borrowed a small amount ($12,000 or less) and have been paying it off for at least a decade are eligible for relief.

Others affected are 65,700 borrowers participating through other income-driven plans who should have qualified for relief but did not because their loan servicers wrongfully put them into forbearance. Fixes to those plans account for nearly half of the loans forgiven in the announcement Friday.

The final bucket includes a few thousand borrowers participating in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which relieves the loans for people working in government jobs or positions that give back to the community. Biden has been working to fix various administrative problems that have long plagued the program, and the discharges announced Friday are the result of one such adjustment.

The latest batch of student loan debt relief brings the total amount forgiven under Biden to $153 billion. In all, the administration says nearly 4.3 million Americans have had their student loans relieved thanks to its actions. That works out to about 1 in 10 federal borrowers who have been approved for relief.

Contributing: Alia Wong and Zachary Schermele

Gabe Hauari is a national trending news reporter at USA TODAY. You can follow him on X @GabeHauari or email him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Most student loan borrowers have delayed big life events due to debt