Two-Thirds Of People Regret Their Uni Degrees, With Debts The Biggest Concern

A university education is still considered a pathway to higher lifetime earnings and gainful employment -- but lots of people have regrets.

Two-thirds of employees report having regrets when it comes to their advanced degrees, according to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents this past spring that was released Tuesday.

Student loan debt, which has ballooned to nearly $1.6 trillion nationwide in 2019, was the number one regret among workers with college degrees. About 27 percent of survey respondents listed student loans as their top misgiving, PayScale said.

The findings illustrate why education loans burdening millions of Americans have become a hot-button issue among some Democratic presidential candidates.

Image: Getty

Most recently, Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday proposed a plan to impose a tax on Wall Street trading and use the proceeds to erase that $1.6 trillion of debt.

About 70 percent of college students graduated with student loan debt this year, averaging about $33,000 per student. And as younger grads pay off student loan balances, they're struggling to accumulate wealth or are putting off purchasing homes -- some millennials are even struggling to purchase groceries.

It's not just millennials. Baby boomers are taking on student loan debt either to help cover college costs for their children or to retrain themselves for a workplace transformed by increased automation, cloud computing and other labor-saving technologies.

Some Americans age 62 and older are using their Social Security benefits to pay off more than $86 billion in unpaid college loans.

Major Bummers

College debt was followed by chosen area of study (12 percent) as a top regret for employees, though this varied greatly by major. Other regrets include poor networking, school choice, too many degrees, time spent completing education and academic underachievement.

Photo: Getty Images.

Most satisfied: Those with science, technology, engineering and math majors, who are typically more likely to enjoy higher salaries, reported more satisfaction with their college degrees. About 42 percent of engineering grads and 35 percent of computer science grads said they had no regrets.

Most regrets: Humanities majors, who are least likely to earn higher pay post-graduation, were most likely to regret their college education. About 75 percent of humanities majors said they regretted their college education. About 73 percent of graduates who studied social sciences, physical and life sciences, and art also said the same.

In the middle: In between the other two categories were 66 percent of business graduates, 67 percent of health sciences graduates and 68 percent of math graduates who said they regretted their education.

READ MOREA University Has 'Banned' Clapping At Events

READ MOREThe University Students Taking 'Study Drugs' To Cram For Exams

At least one sector of employment bucked the trend: Teachers and other professionals in education, which isn't typically a high-paying profession, were the second-least likely, after engineering grads, to have any regrets tied to their major, with 63 percent saying they had no regrets.

Generational Differences

Broken down by generation, older Americans were more likely to report that they have no regrets about their education. Among baby boomers, or 51 percent said they have no college regrets, making them the only demographic with a majority reporting no regrets. In contrast, just 37 percent of Gen Xers and nearly 29 percent of millennials reported no regrets.

Millennials, who are most disappointed with their college education, have the highest number of employees regretting their student loans. About 29 percent of millennials regret their student loans, while only 26 percent of Gen Xers and just 13 percent of baby boomers regret the loads they took on for college.