If Student Loans Were Forgiven, What Would You Put the Money Toward Instead?

A stack of one hundred dollar bills in a money wrapper labeled "Student Loan" on top of a blue graduation cap.
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In 2021, GOBankingRates conducted a poll in which 52% of the 3,600 respondents noted they were in favor of blanket student loan forgiveness. Forbes estimates that there is $1.75 trillion in total outstanding debt with 92% coming from federal loans and each borrower on average owing about $28,900. The current proposal is for $10,000 per borrower.

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With the moratorium ending in just a few weeks, GBR once again asked readers about their loans, this time, about what they would do with the extra funds if student loans were eliminated. There were 502 Americans, aged 18 and older, who took part in the survey in July 2022, answering the question:

If your student loan debt was forgiven, what major purchase or life change would you make?

Outside of the “other/no change” category, the overwhelming response was wanting to buy a house. Twenty-two percent of respondents chose that option, including 48.18% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 45.33% of 25- to 34-year-olds.

Paying down other forms of debt was another popular choice for 21.2% of respondents especially for the older demographics in the poll, including 30.12% of 35- to 44-year-olds and 45.05% of 45- to 54-year-olds. 

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Retiring early and switching careers lagged behind, chosen by 8% and 5.8% of respondents, respectively. Though both of those options were strong in the younger group, with 19.12% of 18- to 24-year-olds already wanting to call it quits on a career and 17.65% of the same age group wanting to switch jobs.

Getting married and having a baby seem to be the lowest priority options among all ages, with only 3.8% and 4.4% of people respectively choosing those life events as what’d they do if they didn’t have student loans.

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Another interesting finding — the majority of women wanted to buy a house with 27.78% choosing that response versus 14.15% men. On the converse, more men wanted to retire early and switch careers, coming in with 11.32% and 11.79% respectively responding in kind (versus 5.56% and 1.39% women). 

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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