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Earlier this week, the Department of Education announced that borrowers would once again be on the hook for student loan payments starting in October. This comes after a three-year pause on payments throughout the pandemic and President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, which is currently on hold but will go before the Supreme Court sometime this summer.

With this major change inbound for student loan borrowers, independent of how the Supreme Court rules, CivicScience gauged how prepared Americans with outstanding student loan payments are for the resumption. According to the latest data, one-third of current borrowers are ‘very concerned’ about being able to pay back loan payments – and a 58% majority are at least ‘somewhat concerned.’

Younger borrowers (aged 18-34) are the most likely to express any level of concern about paying back student loans, exceeding 60%. But the highest level of concern is evenly distributed across all age groups, with each age bracket hovering within a percentage point of the Gen Pop’s ‘very concerned’ figure of 32%.

In light of student loans resuming, CivicScience revisited its data on consumer attitudes toward trade schools/certification programs and 4-year colleges. There’s been significant movement since last June, with Americans who believe trade schools/certification programs are better options than 4-year colleges increasing by 7 percentage points (up to 61% from 54% last year).

But among Gen Z Americans, there’s been an even more drastic shift over the same time period. Isolating to the 13-24 age group, those who believe trade schools/certification programs are a better option than 4-year colleges have increased by 16 points from last year. That’s an enormous change, considering this age group spans high school students up through the typical college graduation age. Whether you attribute it to economic conditions or the reinstatement of student loan payments, American attitudes are shifting further away from traditional 4-year colleges.

CivicScience will continue tracking consumer sentiment toward student loan repayment and education options. For additional insights before we publish more on Gen Z college intent, get in touch.