Buyer's Remorse on Student Loans?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—The debt load graduating students bring with them to the real word has become one of the defining metrics in the student loan crisis. Depending on who you talk to, estimates can range from the mid-$20,000s to around $35,000 if debt owed to family and through credit cards are factored in. Then there's the types of loans—public vs. private—influencing cost. In a bad job market, borrowers have struggled across the board, from law school students to beauty school grads, as though these two disparate occupations were on an equal footing.


But a May report by Fidelity Investments turned up another benchmark of disillusionment: 39% say they would have done things differently if they knew what it was going to be like to shoulder this financial burden, a 14% increase over findings in 2011.

"The number of graduates reporting that they were surprised by the level of student debt they accumulated is a big concern and shows that there is a considerable need for families to better understand the total cost of college," said Keith Bernhardt, vice president of college planning at Fidelity Investments in commenting on Fidelity's Cost Conscious College Graduate Study, focusing on the classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"It is critically important for families to have thorough discussions related to college planning a lot earlier than they do now," Bernhardt added, "and to understand their options and create a college savings and funding plan to help avoid significant post-graduation debt."

Fidelity concluded that there was an uptick in the willingness of students to be accountable for the choices they made during their college educations from 2011 to 2013, a bit of good news. Even in the context of rising student loan debt, which recently broke the $1 trillion barrier, 85% of recent college grads reported kicking in at least some of their personal savings for tuition and related expenses. Of those who contributed to their college expenses, 27% chipped in more than $10,000.

-By John Sandman -

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