Americans who took out student loans to pay for their college education are more likely to regret their college choices than those who haven’t.
Research by online learning platform Study.com showed that those who regret paying an average of $678 a month on their loans, compared to $402 a month for those who don’t.
US student debt reached $1.75 trillion in 2022, with the average borrower taking out $28,950 in student loans to pay for an education. President Joe Biden has now announced mass cuts in student debt for up to 40 million graduates.
The Department of Education estimates that 27 million borrowers will be eligible for $20,000 in student loan relief, with borrower applications expected to open in the coming weeks.
More than a third of Americans surveyed said they regret their choice of college, compared to a quarter who said they had no regrets.
About 31 percent of respondents said their major choice was their biggest regret from college, with 28 percent regretting taking on student debt to fund their education. One in five regrets having broken off their studies.
According to the study, starting income directly correlates to how heavily a graduate uses their degree in their career.
Respondents who used their college degree earned 40 percent more than those who didn’t.
Around 57 percent of college graduates surveyed said they use what they learned during their time in college in their careers after graduation.
Those who used their degrees in their careers made over $15,000 more per year than those who said they didn’t.
Annual income for those who used their college major in their job averaged $52,653 compared to $37,179 for those not working in the same field.
The salary disparity between those who regret their choice of study is also significant. Median salaries for those who used their degrees and had no regrets averaged over $58,162, compared to $50,685 for those who used their majors but regretted their time in education.
Those who have no regrets about their major but do not use their major in their career earn an average of $38,633 per year compared to those who do not major and regret their choice, who earn about $35,771 per year .
Brooke Gabbert, a spokeswoman for Study.com, said news week Students need to do research and make sure they choose the right major.
She said: “The college’s return on investment is often the most important issue. We’ve learned that the less someone pays on their student loans each month, the less likely they are to regret their college choices.
“Aside from the financial drain of credit, college debt is often emotionally draining, which can lead to feelings of regret and doubt when it comes to college choices and overall satisfaction with the experience.”
How do I know that my field of study is right for me?
Gabbert said it’s important for students to take the time and make sure they feel confident about their college choices.
“Students should consider their interests, skills, and abilities to discern what career they want, given the majors they are interested in. A passion for a particular area can make the overall college experience more manageable and lead to a more fulfilling career.
“Once students have narrowed down some options, they should research the short- and long-term career opportunities in this field. They should also understand that just because they chose a major when they started college doesn’t mean they stick with it.
“Another option is to go to college with an undeclared major, take courses in different fields and see what interests them the most. They need to know they have time to make up their minds.”
Gabbert added that students shouldn’t feel locked into a decision and that it’s okay to switch majors if you find someone a better fit at a later date.
She said: “Most colleges require foundation courses before their majors, so this is a time to try different things and see where your interests lie. They need to know that they are not bound by this major if they don’t like it.
“Students have to think very carefully about these decisions. They should gather data about their options and how they affect their future, and be prepared to adjust their path as they learn more about different career opportunities.”
She added that students should also contact their college or school if they are unsure of their options and what this might mean for them after they graduate, but Gabbert suggested schools could do more to help to support their students in making these life-changing decisions.
Gabbert added, “While most colleges offer some sort of career development service, students aren’t typically required to use it.
“Schools should make it a top priority for seniors to take this course or even make it a required course to graduate so that those students are prepared with full resumes, cover letters and interview skills to graduate.”