A student loan debt crisis has been brewing for years.  Student loans are relatively easy to get and when the market opened up to private student loans, debt loads exploded.  Unfortunately, student loans are proving to be more burdensome than many borrowers originally thought.  A new survey from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) reveals that 15 percent of those surveyed actually put off marriage because of their student loan debt load.

Other results from the survey include:

  • 75 percent have made personal or financial sacrifices because of monthly payments
  • 41 percent have delayed retirement savings
  • 40 percent delayed an automobile purchase
  • 29 percent have had to delay buying a house
While these numbers are shocking, the real story is that more than 60 percent of those surveyed didn't realize how burdensome student loan debt would be and 60 percent have some regret over choosing student loans to finance their education. Obviously, students and their parents aren’t educating themselves about the long-term impact of student loans.

Americans owed more than $966 billion in student loan debt at the end of 2012, with an average balance of $24,803 per borrower.  This makes student loan the largest non-mortgage debt burden in the nation.  

To make matters worse, not everyone that has a student loan has a degree.  A student can easily rack up thousands in student loans and then never graduate.  While a college degree doesn’t guarantee a job or a higher salary, it certainly helps.  

The AICPA survey should serve as a wakeup call for those of us that have children preparing to enter college in the coming years.  Student loans aren’t the answer.  As parents we need to save now, if we can.  We also need to prepare our children for the fact that they may need to work to help pay for their college expenses.  Of course, encouraging our children to adopt good study habits and apply for every scholarship on the books is another great way to secure college funding.