Millennial College Graduates with Student Loans Now Spending Nearly One-Fifth of Their Annual Salaries on Student Loan Repayments

Citizens Bank’s new Millennial Graduates in Debt study shows that most recent graduates with student loans underestimated their monthly payments and now expect to be making payments into their 40s

Fewer than 50 percent of Millennials making student loan payments have explored lowering monthly payments through refinancing

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--()--Research released today by Citizens Bank shows that college graduates aged 35 and under with student loans now are spending nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of their current salaries on student loan payments and that 60 percent now expect to be paying off student loans into their 40s.

At the same time, fewer than 50 percent have looked into refinancing options to lower their monthly payments, consolidate their private and federal loans or otherwise improve the terms of their loans, according to the Millennial Graduates in Debt survey released today by Citizens.

According to The College Board, the cost of college has increased 13 percent for public four-year colleges, and 11 percent for private nonprofit four year college in the last five years. To help pay for college, more than three quarters of respondents to the new Citizens survey (77 percent) indicated they had received federal loans. One third of respondents said they had received private student loans, which typically are smaller and in most cases require a credit-qualified co-signer.

“The long-term cost of college continues to be a major challenge for Millennials, even after they have established themselves in the workforce and significantly improved their credit from where they were when they started school,” said Brendan Coughlin, president of Consumer Lending for Citizens Bank. “As this generation of college graduates starts to contemplate future life events like home purchases and retirement, it becomes increasingly important for them to take control of their college debt, whether it’s through refinancing or other tactics that can help them limit its impact on their overall financial health.”

Citizens Bank is a leader in student lending and the only national bank to offer refinancing options for both private and federal student loans to credit-qualified borrowers. On average, its Education Refinance Loan reduces a borrower’s student loan payments by $1,764 per year.

Citizens’ Millennial Graduates in Debt survey found graduates with student loans grappling with the trade-offs required to make their student loan payments every month:

  • 54 percent have limited their travel
  • 50 percent have limited their shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories
  • 46 percent have limited their spending on entertainment and social events
  • 45 percent have limited their spending on eating out
  • 40 percent have limited the amount they can spend on rent or mortgage payments

In light of this, some Millennials now express buyer’s remorse regarding their college investment, with 57 percent saying they regret taking out as many student loans as they did. More than one-third (36%) of Millennial graduates with student loans said they would not have gone to college if they had known how much it was going to cost them.

“Unfortunately, the long-term cost of college is leading some graduates to question the value of their investment – in many cases, before they have fully explored their opportunities to significantly reduce their payments,” Coughlin said. “Similar to our approach to working with student borrowers and their families at the front end of the college journey, we are committed to helping graduates understand their options and manage their debt in a way that complements their broader financial goals.”

In addition to its Education Refinance Loan, Citizens offers a range of borrowing options for credit-qualified students and graduates and their families including the Citizens Bank Student Loan, the Citizens Bank Student Loan with Multi-Year Borrowing and the Citizens Bank Parent Loan. In most cases, Citizens lends to in-school borrowers who apply for loans with credit-qualified co-signers. To ensure that student borrowers fully understand the terms of their loans, Citizens includes a thorough review of the borrower’s options (federal and private) at the front end of the application process and sends borrowers an annual “report card” describing how much they have borrowed to date and what their monthly payments will be after graduation.

To learn more about Citizens Bank, call the customer contact center at 1-800-428-7463, follow the bank on Facebook and Twitter or visit the Citizens Bank website.

Survey Methodology

Citizens Bank conducted a survey of 501 U.S. Millennials (ages 18-35) who are 1) college graduates (2 year, 4 year, postgraduate or professional degree) and 2) currently have student loans. The custom survey was conducted online for Citizens by TNS between February 10 and 22, 2016.

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $138.2 billion in assets as of December 31, 2015. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens helps its retail customers “bank better” with mobile and online banking and the convenience of approximately 3,200 ATMs and approximately 1,200 Citizens Bank 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 select markets nationwide. In Commercial Banking, Citizens 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 through its subsidiaries Citizens Bank, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania as Citizens Bank, Citizens Commercial Banking and Citizens One. Additional information about Citizens and its full line of products and services can be found at


Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Steve Sylven, 781-471-1481


Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Steve Sylven, 781-471-1481