Survey Results: 86 Percent of Teachers Took Out Student Loans, Few Have Paid them Back

Today, about two-thirds of recent college graduates took out student loans to pay for college. Since 1999, student debt has increased more than 500 percent, yet incomes of graduates have remained stagnant, and in some cases, actually decreased. 

One such example is teachers’ salaries. According to the Economic Policy Institute, since 1996, the average weekly wages of public school teachers (adjusted for inflation) decreased 2.3 percent (in 2017 dollars). So, it should be no surprise, that a popular topic among teachers on Fishbowl involves student loans and how to manage them while on a tight budget. 

We decided to ask Fishbowl users one simple question: ‘Do you currently have student loan debt?’ 

Users could answer with A.) Yes, B.) No, I never took out student loans, or C.) No, I already paid it off. The survey question ran from July 22 to July 29, 2019 and was answered by a total of 10,284 teachers, management consultants, accountants, and advertising and marketing professionals. 

Student Debt Survey Results

Among the four industries surveyed, teachers have the highest percentage who currently have student loans (64.73%), the lowest percentage who never took out student loans (13.85%), and the lowest percentage who have paid back their student loans (21.42%). 

Here are more key findings:

  • Management consulting professionals are the least in debt, with only 30.45 percent answering that they currently have student loans. Following management consultants are advertising and marketing professionals (40.87 percent), accountants (41.70 percent), and finally, teachers (64.73 percent). 
  • Less management consultants needed to take out student loans than any of the other industries. Forty percent of management consultants answered that they never borrowed money for college, versus 35.67 percent of accountants, 35.04 percent of advertising and marketing professionals, and 13.85 percent of teachers. 
  • Among those who did take on student debt, management consultants are paying paying off their student loans at a higher rate than any of the other three industries. 
  • A total of 29.52 percent of management professionals responded saying they have already paid off their student loans versus 24.09 percent in advertising and marketing, 22.63 percent in accounting, and 21.42 percent of teachers. 

Noticing a trend? Compared to the other industries surveyed, management consultants have less debt and are paying it off at the highest rate, while more teachers are in debt and paying it off at the lowest rate. So, it should not be surprising that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of management consultants is the second-highest among the four industries, while the median income of teachers is the lowest. In fact, the median income of a management consultant is more than $23,000 more than that of teachers.

In July, we released survey results from teachers which showed that more than 96% of teachers are also spending their own money on supplies for their students. This means that those with the lowest median salary, are dealing with student debt at a higher rate and also spending their own money on their students, leaving them with even less disposable income and increasing the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Student Loan Workshop for Teachers

Are you a teacher dealing with this dilemma? We recently held a Q&A and workshop with Will Sealy and Paul Joo of Summer, a company that specializes in helping teachers manage their student loans. You can check out the workshop on managing your student loans as a teacher here.

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