Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: May 10, 2013

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On average, 60 percent of student loan borrowers regret their financing choices for higher education, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

According to 2012 statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt impacts over 39 million adults in the United States. This is a 70 percent increase from 2004.

Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said this difficult reality will become apparent to many new graduates in the coming weeks.

The AICPA survey, which was conducted via telephone interviews with student loan borrowers and their parents, also found that three out of four borrowers and their parents have been forced to make personal or financial sacrifices due to monthly student loan payments. Several of those sacrifices include postponing major life purchases such as waiting to purchase a car (40 percent of respondents), waiting to buy a house (29 percent) and postponing a wedding (15 percent).

Almonte told that education can be a powerful investment, but it has to be handled properly.

Few consumers view student loan debt and their educational experience as a regular investment. He said that true investments should account for risk, reward and return on investment.

When Almonte advises his clients before buying a home, they review the full monthly and yearly costs associated with the purchase. Student loans borrowers do not always do this. He said that borrowers fail to separate their wants from their needs.

One way to lower overwhelming debts is to set limitations on the amount of debt needed. Financial experts suggest that students should take out less than they expect to earn during the first year of their new job. For example, a student borrower who expects to become a drama teacher and earn $30,000 their first year should not strap themselves with college-related debts over that amount.

“If you actually take the time to run the numbers … I think people would come to a different conclusion,” Almonte said about students’ choice of schools.

Another major way to prevent escalating debt is offering financial education earlier on. Almonte said if children and teenagers are taught to make financial decisions and mistakes earlier on, when the time comes to make a decision about higher education, they will make the right one.

“If we start early, they will be able to handle this major decision better than they do today,” he said.