The Forum Poll™ - The vast majority of Canadians with student debt find education is worth the investment

Total Student Debt Tops $10,000 When Leaving School

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Total Student Debt Tops $10,000 When Leaving School

The vast majority of Canadians with student debt find education is worth the investment

Toronto, September 5th – In a random sampling of public opinion taken by The Forum Poll™ among 1,163 Canadians 16 years of age or older who attended a postsecondary education institution, 1 in 2 (48%) were left with a total student debt of $1-$10,000 at the time of leaving their postsecondary institution, regardless of whether they graduated or not. Over one quarter (27%) were left with a total student debt of between $10,001-$20,000 upon leaving school and 1 in 10 (10%) were left with $20,001-$30,000. 6% were left with $30,001-$40,000 in total student debt.

1 in 10 (8%) were left with a total student debt of $40,001+ when leaving their postsecondary institution, whether they graduated or not.

Those from Ontario and Alberta are most likely to have the highest student debt when leaving postsecondary education (57% for both with $10,000+ in student debt) followed by those in the Atlantic (53% with $10,000+ in student debt).

Those who self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community are likely to have a higher student debt when leaving school (66% with 10,000+ in student debt, compared to 50%).

Furthermore, 1 in 10 (9%) LGBTQ2SIAP+ community members have $70,000+ in student debt when leaving school, considerably higher than those who don't self-identify with this community (1%).


The majority do not owe today

When asked whether they still have student debt owing today, three quarters (76%) of all respondents indicated they owed $0 in total student debt. 1 in 10 (9%) owe $1-$10,000 and 7% owe $10,001-$20,000. 7% also owe $20,000+.

Those from Ontario and Alberta are most likely to still owe student debt today (18% for both with $10,000+) followed by those in the Atlantic (16% with $10,000+).

Those who self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community are more likely to have $10,000+ in student debt owing today (31%, compared to 13%).

 

1 in 5 took 8+ years to pay off their student debt and 1 in 10 will be student debt free within one year

 

When asking those who currently have $0 in student debt approximately how long it took to pay off, one third (32%) indicated 1-3 years. 3 in 10 (28%) indicated 4-7 years and one quarter (24%) took less than one year.

1 in 5 (17%) took 8+ years to pay off their student debt.

Of those respondents who are still paying off their student debt, 4 in 10 (39%) say it will take them an additional 4-7 years to pay off, while 3 in 10 (28%) approximate 8+ years. One in four (26%) still need 1-3 years to pay off their student debt and 7% will pay off their debt within 1 year.

Those living in the Atlantic were more likely to take the longest to pay off their debt – 23% took 8+ years compared to the rest of the Country at 16% taking 8+ years.

Of those who still have student debt owing today, those from the Atlantic were also more likely to say it will take another 8+ years to pay it off when compared with the rest of the country (41%, compared to 28%).


Two thirds find a student loan to be very important in continuing education after high school

When asking respondents whether a student loan was important in allowing them to continue their education after high school, two thirds (68%) indicated this was “very” important followed by 2 in 10 (18%) finding this to be “somewhat important”.

7% found a student loan to be somewhat unimportant to allowing them to continue their education and 6% found a student loan to be not at all important.

Those who identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community were more likely to find a student loan to be “very” important when compared to those who don’t self-identify (76% LGBTQ2SIAP+ community, 68% non).

 

Majority find investment in education worth it

9 in 10 (88%) agree the investment they made in their education was worth it for their personal growth, while 8 in 10 (81%) agree the investment they made in their education was worth it for their career advancement.

Younger respondents were less likely to feel this way. Those under 44 were more likely to say investing in education was not worth it for career advancement (26%, compared to 13% for those 45+) or personal growth (18%, compared to 7% for those 45+).

 

One quarter are taking a second job to pay off their student debt

Of all respondents surveyed, one in four (24%) indicated they took a second job to pay off their student debt, whereas three quarters (76%) did not.

Furthermore, one third (35%) have not significantly changed their lifestyle because of their student debt.

Those who self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community were more likely to indicate they took a second job to pay off their debt when compared to those who don’t self-identify (28% LGBTQ2SIAP+ community, compared to 23% for non-self-identifying). This group was also significantly more likely to indicate they’ve changed their lifestyle because of their student debt (48%, compared to 33%).

Females were also more likely to indicate they changed their lifestyle when compared to male respondents (38%, compared to 30% for males).

  

Student debt effects career plans

When asked if significant changes were made to career plans because of their student debt, over 1 in 5 (22%) indicated there had been.

Those who self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community were more likely to indicate significant changes were made to career plans because of student debt (31% compared to 20%).

 

Over half have additional debt

When asked whether they had other debt in addition to their student debt, over 1 in 2 (52%) respondents indicated they did.

Those who self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community are more likely to have additional debt other than their student debt when compared to those who don’t self-identify (59%, compared to 52%).

 

1 in 10 self-identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community

 

When asked if respondents identified with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, or pansexual, 1 in 10 (9%) indicated they had.

Younger respondents were more likely to identify with the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community when compared to older respondents (13% average for 16-44, compared to 6% for 45+).

“The vast majority of Canadians say that their post-secondary education was a worthwhile investment, regardless of the cost,” said Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, President of Forum Research. “Amongst those who self-identify as LGBTQ2SIAP+, three-quarters said that a student loan was “very” important to their ability to continue their education after high school, considerably above the average.”

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.