Student debt is out of control. Research has already shown that carrying the burden of student loans harms millennials' health and prevents many of them from buying a home or even starting a family when they otherwise would.

Now, a newly released study reveals that one third of Americans with student debt worry that they'll never be able to pay it back. The latest Country Financial national survey measured how Americans feel about our own student debt and student debt in general. The news isn't good.

1. Average student debt is more than $36,000.

Millennials are particularly heavily burdened, earlier research found, with 63 percent in this age group owing $10,000 or more, debts they will likely spend decades paying off.

2. One third worry they'll never be able to pay it all.

One third of respondents said they were not confident that they would ever be able to pay off their student debt, raising the alarming prospect that it might follow them into retirement or to the end of their lives. More than a third of those with student debt also said no one had ever taught them how to manage money.

3. Nearly half have missed at least one payment.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they'd missed at least one student loan payment--and it mostly wasn't an accident. More than two thirde who'd missed a payment said it was a result of lack of funds rather than error.

4. Americans see student debt as a bad and worsening problem.

Not surprisingly, most survey respondents thought the current state of student debt is a very bad thing for us all. Sixty-three percent said student debt is a very big problem and 68 percent believe it poses a threat to the economy. Not surprisingly, 80 percent said the amount of debt needed to complete an education is much worse than it was two decades ago. And 59 percent of those who started colleged but didn't finish said cost was the reason they dropped out.

5. Yet we still believe education is vital for success.

Despite the obvious perils of taking on student debt, most Americans believe we have no other choice. The vast majority--86 percent--say that secondary education is important for success in this country, and 66 percent say it's valuable enough to be worth taking on student debt. Which means, for the foreseeable future, college-aged people will be stuck taking on unpayable student debt, with very few options for avoiding it

Published on: Oct 9, 2017