Money

Here’s how many recent grads regret paying for college

Graduates from the Harvard Business School MBA program.
Neal Hamberg | Getty Images
Graduates from the Harvard Business School MBA program.

Here are some common money choices twenty-somethings wish they hadn't made: Taking an Uber home from the bar instead of the subway. Not getting MealPal because it's more expensive than packing your lunch but then never managing to pack lunch. Letting your friends convince you that you should drink at least two $5 Kombuchas a week.

Now, it turns out, a sizable number of Americans have a much more significant regret: paying for college. In a recent GOBankingRates survey, that was the biggest financial regret of 8 percent of the 5,000 respondents, and 15 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24.

Of the seven answers the participants could select, paying for college was the fifth most popular. For millennials, it was third, falling behind only "Not saving enough money" and "Spending money on non-essentials."

It's unsurprising that younger people regret paying for college more than older generations, given how much more expensive college has become. In 1960, the median tuition at private colleges was $475, or about $4,000 in today's dollars. In 1970, it was $1,561 ($13,149 today) for four-year private institutions and $358 ($3,015 today) for public ones.

Today, in contrast, according to College Board, the average cost of one year at a public university for an in-state student is $20,090, and $34,220 for out-of-staters. The cost of private school, including tuition and fees, can be almost twice as high, although top-tier private schools that can offer generous aid and scholarships can also be a surprisingly good deal.

As a result, millennials are in debt. For more than half of them, the situation is bad enough that they would even give up the right to vote to have their loans forgiven.

The average American college graduate left with $37,172 in debt in 2016, reports Rolling Stone, which was 6 percent more than the previous year. The $1.4 trillion student debt crisis seems to be only getting worse.

And the percentage of grads who regret paying for school may only continue to rise, given the implications of the proposed higher education bill released by House Republicans last Friday.

The legislation could raise interest rates on loans of financially needy students by winding down the Federal Perkins Loan Program and end other loan-forgiveness programs entirely.

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