More Than Three Quarters of Former College Students Wish They Had a “Do Over” for Their Student Loans and Were Unaware of Options to Restructure via Refinancing

New survey from Citizens Financial Group reveals widespread concern and confusion over the long-term cost of college and strategies for managing student loan debt

Nearly 25 percent of former students between the ages of 18 and 40 say they can’t make their monthly payments and 47 percent say they may not have gone to college if they had known the impact that college debt would have on their lives

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--()--A new survey released today by Citizens Financial Group finds that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of former college students between the ages of 18 and 40 wish they had planned better for paying down their student debt. At the same time, 76 percent are unfamiliar with the options that exist to re-design their student loan packages through refinancing, according to the national survey of parents, students and former students.

According to new research in Citizens’ INFORMED Index: The Student Loan Landscape, parents and current students today do discuss how student loan debt can be managed, but former students only recall having “brief” conversations, if any. Only 46 percent of former students recalled having this conversation at all.

The survey also found that 90 percent of former students believe that colleges should play a greater role in helping students understand how to manage their debt, and 91 percent believe high schools should play a greater role.

Twenty three percent of former students are not currently able to make their student loan payments, according to the Citizens survey.

“Despite the well-documented long term value of a college degree, too many Americans continue to struggle with paying for the rapidly increasing cost well after they have graduated,” said Brendan Coughlin, President of Education and Auto Finance for Citizens Financial Group. “It’s clear that a key step is having a plan for life after graduation before you enroll in the school of your choice to ensure the cost is appropriate to the career you want. Also revealing, was that most are unaware that they have an opportunity to make their student loan debt more manageable through refinancing – something that 93 percent of those who have refinanced say they recommend to others.”

Citizens, which offers help with student loans via loan refinancing as part of its Citizens Bank and Charter One private student loan offering, last month became one of the first banks in the country to offer private refinancing for federal student loans. Previously, its Education Refinance Loan® had focused on private student loan refinancing options only and had saved borrowers an average of $1271 and helped them reduce their average APR by 1.5 percent.

The INFORMED Index research shows that anxiety about managing student loans begins to rise before students even graduate: nearly three-quarters of current students, or 74 percent, are concerned that they will not make enough money to pay off their student loans. And while 64 percent of former students say that “going to college has enabled me to do great things in my life,” 47 percent say they may not have gone to college at all if they had known how much the cost of college would impact them.

“We knew when we entered the private student loan business in 2009 that consumers needed better access to information about how the system works, and this is the basis of our consultative approach to helping customers determine the types of loans – federal or private – that might be right for them,” Coughlin said. “This new INFORMED Index research clearly shows that the need for information continues after school for former students who have seen their economic lives evolve, but not their student loan obligations. With refinancing now broadly available for both federal student loans and private student loans, we are committed to helping our customers better manage this phase of their financial lives.”

The research, commissioned by Citizens Financial Group, and conducted by Ipsos, was comprised of a 20-minute online survey conducted between August 22, 2014 and September 12, 2014, The survey explored the opinions of 1,562 respondents – 500 current college students age 18–24 with student loans, 544 parents of current college students age 18-24 with student loans, and 518 former students age 18-40 with student loans. The data was statistically tested at 95% confidence, with margin of error of +/- 4.4% for current college students, +/- 4.2% for parents of current students, and +/- 4.3% for former students.

For information about survey, please visit: www.INFORMEDIndex.com.

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $130.3 billion in assets as of June 30, 2014. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, the company offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Consumer Banking helps its retail customers “bank better” with mobile and online banking, a 24/7 customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,200 Citizens Bank and Charter One branches in 11 states in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Citizens also provides mortgage lending, auto lending, student lending and commercial banking services in selective markets nationwide. Citizens Commercial Banking offers corporate, institutional and not-for-profit clients a full range of wholesale banking products and services including lending and deposits, capital markets, treasury services, foreign exchange and interest hedging, leasing and asset finance, specialty finance and trade finance.

Citizens operates via subsidiaries Citizens Bank, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. Additional information about Citizens and its full line of products and services can be found at www.citizensbank.com.

1Average savings based on 618 actual customers who refinanced their private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between 1/6/14 and 7/8/14.

Contacts

Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Steve Sylven, 781-471-1481
steven.sylven@citizensbank.com

Contacts

Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Steve Sylven, 781-471-1481
steven.sylven@citizensbank.com