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According to a new poll, 71% of currently and previously enrolled student borrowers report delaying at least one significant life event because of student debt. (Photo/Pexels.com)

This story was originally published by Indiana News Service (INNS), part of the Public News Service network.

By Joe Ulery, producer

Indiana News Network

April 19, 2024

A new Gallup and Lumina Foundation poll unveils a concerning reality: Hoosiers may lack clarity about the true cost of higher education.

The survey reveals merely 23% of U.S. adults without college degrees could estimate the annual net cost of a bachelor’s degree from a public college within $5,000 of the actual expense. There percussions of the financial fog can be overwhelming for students.

Gabriela Espinoza, a 27-year-old nursing student at IUPUI in Indianapolis, said looming debt from school casts a shadow over her future.

“I’m trying to figure out what my debt is going to look like and how long it’s going to take me to pay off,” Espinoza explained. “I’m luckily in a position right now where I live at home with mom, and she’s been helping me out. You know, eventually, I’d like to think about moving out and moving on my own.”

Among those polled, 75% believe a bachelor’s degree is “extremely”or “very” valuable. However, cost is a major deterrent for many who wish to get a degree. Experts say higher education leaders need to bring clarity to the true cost of college to reduce confusion and provide a pathway for the millions of Americans who have considered college but have not yet enrolled.

For those participating in the poll, 31% have considered stopping coursework within the last three months due to the cost of attending college.

Parker Madison, another nursing student at IUPUI, said the expense is a major concern.

“If you get your college education, you still may be making the same amount as someone without a degree,” Madison pointed out. “I feel like sometimes the college education’s not even worth it.”

More than half, about 56%, of unenrolled adults said cost is a very important reason they are not pursuing a post-high school education.Debt is also a factor for students who stopped out of college, with 35% of students saying loans prevented them from returning to finishing their degree.

Public News Service is an independent, member-supported news organization providing “news in the public interest” through a network of independent state newswires. Our journalists report on a broad spectrum of public interest topics with the goal of promoting an informed citizenry to support vibrant, equitable, and participatory communities – ultimately leading to a healthier democracy.

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