The New American Dream: Paying Off Your Student Loans

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

March 30, 2020

Paying off student loan debt has joined owing a home, owning a car and having a family as the new American Dream.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Canva, 40% of Americans feel that achieving the American dream means paying off their student loans.

The top ten choices for achieving the American dream are:

  • Owning your own home
  • Owning a car
  • Having a family
  • Starting a business
  • Paying off student loans
  • Providing a high-quality education for your children
  • Living in the suburbs
  • Getting a good job
  • Being out of credit card debt
  • Realizing your potential

Other popular choices include having a positive impact on the world and owning a dog. The survey did not ask about owning a cat.

Nearly a quarter feel that the first step in achieving your goals and dreams is paying off your student loans, behind living on your own and paying off credit cards.

More than a quarter believe that their student loans are preventing them from achieving their goals and dreams.

According to the survey, signs of having “made it” include owning a premium Spotify subscription, shopping at Whole Foods Market, not having to worry if there are enough funds in your account, picking up the bill after a night out with friends and owning your own Netflix subscription.

The survey respondents’ top goals for the nation include affordable healthcare, access to quality education, access to public transportation and 100% renewable energy.

The survey results have a confidence interval of +/- 2.2% at the 95% confidence level.


How to Make That Dream a Reality

There are dozens of ways you can pay off student loans faster.

Consider refinancing private student loans. Refinancing private student loans could mean a lower interest rate, which can save money. Keep in mind refinancing federal student loans means the loss of all federal loan benefits – the potential for any federal student loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans, generous deferment options (pausing payments), and cancelling loans in death or disability.

Try a big move to pay down debt. This could be finding a better-paying job, getting a job that offers student loan repayment assistance, getting a job that qualifies for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or moving to a city or state that is willing to help you repay your student loans.

Explore simple ways to pay student loans faster, such as tutoring, offering translation services or freelancing.


A good place to start:

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