Young CPAs burdened by student loan debt, survey finds

Established, young professionals are still saddled with student loan debt, delaying major life events, according to a new poll of CPAs.

The New Jersey Society of CPAs recently surveyed 109 of its members and found that almost 70 percent of respondents still have student loan debt. Of the members who provided data, approximately 75 percent cited debt of over $20,000.

“Student loan debt is so pervasive today that young professionals in a variety of careers, including accounting, face considerable challenges,” stated Ralph Albert Thomas, CEO and executive director of the NJCPA. “The survey should enlighten accounting firms and other corporations who employ these professionals as to how much debt they have and see if they can help to alleviate that burden.”

Approximately half of respondents were between the ages of 26 and 30, with 21 percent between the ages of 31 and 35. Sixty-seven percent of respondents expect to pay off their student loans within 10 years, with another 19 percent anticipating more than 15 years.

"Student loan debt is a lingering weight around your shoulders that inhibits you from making purchases such as buying a house, taking vacations, choosing where to live, buying a car, etc.," wrote one anonymous survey respondent. "Any type of support to help rid of student debt is helpful."

Due to debt, respondents said they are considering a move to an area with a lower cost of living (43 percent) or taking a second job (43 percent). More than 25 percent of respondents said they would consider borrowing money from family and friends to pay off debt.

"I don't regret going back to school to get my second degree so I could pursue my [CPA license]," wrote another respondent. "But wages haven't increased, so having this hanging over my head has prevented me from starting a family at over 35. It's debilitating to feel so old and yet so financially unstable."

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For more information, head to the NJCPA's site here.

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