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Upcoming Student Loan Repayments Likely to Test Many Retirement Dreams

New Corebridge Financial-Morning Consult study finds three in four Americans with student loan debt expect upcoming repayments to impact retirement savings.

Student loan payments return after a three-and-a-half-year pause.

We surveyed more than 2,100 federal student loan borrowers to learn what the repayment resumption means for retirement savings, personal finances, and financial health.

After a more than three-year pause in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal student loan borrowers are expected to begin repayments on October 1. With many Americans feeling pressure on their personal budgets due to inflation and rising interest rates, borrowers shared that this added monthly bill will impact their ability to save for retirement and will require immediate changes in their finances in order to meet these obligations.

Key takeaways:

  • Retirement savings face new test
    • Three out of four borrowers (75%) said that resuming student dept repayments will impact their ability to save for retirement

    • In order to make payments beginning in October, more than one in five borrowers expect to reduce savings overall (29%), for emergencies (29%) and retirement (22%)

  • More pressure on women’s financial security
    • 60% of female borrowers say they do not expect to be able to afford making payments in October

    • Female borrowers were three times less likely compared to men to have put their disposable income from paused payments toward retirement (5% compared to 16%)
  • Borrowers earning less than $50,000 to feel greatest impact
    • 77% say that payments will affect retirement savings

    • 67% say they will probably or definitely not be able to afford to make payments toward student loans

    • 53% expect to miss one or more payments, and 38% expect to default on the loan
  • Borrowers expect to make immediate changes in order to begin making student loan payments in October
    • 50% say they will reduce spending on nonessentials such as entertainment

    • 41% plan to find additional work or increase their working hours

    • 37% expect to reduce spending on essentials such as groceries

Survey methodology

This poll was conducted with Morning Consult between August 16-24, 2023 among a national sample of 2,112 adults with federal student loans. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points and were weighted to approximate Americans ages 18+ with student loan debt.

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