Nearly Three in 10 Parents Jeopardize Retirement for Student Loan Debt

A majority of parents are unaware of options that can help, a survey finds.

Among parents surveyed by Student Loan Hero, nearly three in 10 (27%) say they have withdrawn from retirement savings to help cover student loan payments.

Thirteen percent indicate this was for their own student loan debt, 10% for a child or children’s student loan debt, and 4% for both. A similar percentage of parents (24%) say they considered using retirement savings to pay student debt.

The survey also reveals that a majority of parents are unaware of options that can help. Fifty-six percent of parents don’t know about options like a cosigner release or an income-driven repayment plan. Nineteen percent of parents surveyed are unaware they can put Parent PLUS loans on an income-driven repayment plan (called Income-Contingent Repayment), and 12% don’t know how to refinance student loans into their child’s name.

In addition, nearly two out of five parents (19%) surveyed are unaware of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which can help eliminate debts for parents and students who hold government jobs or work for certain nonprofits.

Looking at both their student loans and student loans they used to pay for a child’s education, 23% have more than $50,000 in student loan debt; 32% have more than $40,000 in student loan debt; and 43% have more than $30,000 in student loan debt.

The survey was conducted via Google Consumer Surveys on behalf of Student Loan Hero from April 5 to April 9, 2017, with a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adults living in the United States. Full survey results are here.