BUSINESS
05/09/2013 10:32 am ET Updated May 09, 2013

Widespread Student Loan Sacrifices Bolster Elizabeth Warren's Argument

AP

A survey released early Thursday reveals the stunning sacrifices increasing numbers of Americans are making in order to pay off their student loans. The new data comes just one day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed a bill that would drastically reduce the interest rates on student loans.

"Every single day, this country invests in big banks by lending them money at near-zero rates," Warren told The Huffington Post Wednesday. "We should make the same kind of investment lending money to students, who are trying to get an education."

Three-quarters of a group of student borrowers and their parents said either they or those around them have had to make sacrifices because of college debt, according to a new survey from the American Institute for CPAs by Harris Interactive.

Survey respondents cited student debt as a reason for postponing car purchases, home purchases and even marriage.

The survey findings underscore the albatross student debt can place on borrowers, who are often forced to take on debt in order to finance what’s billed as their ticket to the middle class. An April Federal Reserve study found for the first time in 10 years that young workers with college debt are less likely to have mortgages or car loans. Interest rates on some student loans are set to double in July if Congress doesn’t act.

Warren’s first Senate bill aims to address the issue by setting student loan interest rates at the same, low level the Federal Reserve offers loans to banks.

The Fed defends the near-zero interest rates as necessary to boost a struggling economy. But as Warren noted to HuffPost -- and the findings of the AICPA survey corroborate -- the burden of student loan debt is crippling the economy as well, by keeping the borrowers from spending and fueling growth.

Most potential students don't fully understand the extent of the problem, the survey found. More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t fully understand the burden of the college debt when they first took on the loan; about 60 percent said they have some regret over the way they chose to finance their education.

(Hat tip: CNNMoney)

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