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Most student loan borrowers are not struggling, survey finds

Survey of own members finds few are working extra jobs or struggling to meet basic needs

Most student loan borrowers who took a vacation from paying their obligations for the past few years are doing just fine, according to a group that advocates for a taxpayer bailout.

Parents Together Action surveyed its members about the effects the restart of federal student loan payments had on their household budgets.

Remember, this is a self-selected group of people concerned about household finances and student loan debt.

A media representative told The College Fix on Monday there were 500 survey takers. Of that 500, “45% of survey respondents said that either they, their partner, or their kids have student debt, and reported that since loan repayment restarted in October, they’ve been impacted in the following ways,” according to a news release.

But even among those who have said they have been impacted, less than half of respondents, only “17% said they can no longer afford enough food for their family.”

There should be sympathy for anyone who goes hungry and is struggling to pay bills. But in good news, 83 percent of people who said they’ve “been impacted” by the loan repayment are still able to feed their families.

Survey takers could select multiple responses.

87 percent of respondents said they can still pay their rent and mortgage while 80 percent said they are still able to meet the basic needs for their family. Furthermore, 93 percent said they are still able to pay for health insurance and medication, even with the restart of payments.

A majority of respondents do not plan to pursue higher income to help pay off the debt – “20% said they need to work more hours or get a new job to try to make ends meet.”

Parents with student loan debt overestimated the impact of the restart. This is good news, insofar as they can still provide for their families.

Parents Together Action reported its survey last August “found that 64% of parents with student debt said that if student loan payments were to resume without substantial cancellation, they were ‘very worried’ about their family’s ability to make ends meet.”

MORE: It is possible to pay off student loans with work and discipline

The group claims “[t]hat concern has since been substantiated by this newer data.”

But it has not.

The group’s own results state that “22% [of parents with student loan debt] said they’ve had to cut back on essentials like food, health care, or rent in order to afford loan payments.” That means 78 percent did not say they have had to cut back to make ends meet.

Parents Together Action did not respond to an inquiry on Monday about crosstabs on income levels. It resent the survey results in response to a second question Tuesday about its claim about parents not being able to make ends meet. “Respondents also expressed impacts from having to spend their savings, forced to work more hours, no longer able to pay for health insurance, or afford enough food. 4 in 10 parents said it hasn’t impacted their families,” a media representative for the group stated.

Advocates for student loan bailouts have struggled to identify viable sympathy stories.

When the loan payments restarted in October, mainstream media outlets shared stories like the substitute teacher who quit her job and then said she struggled to make $200 monthly payments.

Readers were also told about a married retired couple, one a dental assistant and the other a 20-year AT&T employee, who are struggling to make payments without dipping into their inheritance.

Patrick Donohue, the AT&T retiree, is 67-years-old, which means he can draw from Social Security penalty-free, on top of anything else he makes at his part-time job. NBC News never says why the pair retired early from their jobs.

Elsewhere in the story, the outlet does share another borrower who had cancer. Presumably, NBC News then would say if the Donohues had similar ailments that forced them to retire.

MORE: ‘I don’t need the federal government to pay off my student loans,’ Gen Z grad

IMAGE: Design 491/Canva

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.