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PayScale Research Shows Graduates Today Feel Increased Financial Stress from High Student Debt and Stagnant Wages

Two-thirds of employees with advanced degrees reported feeling regrets about their college choices with student loans topping the list

Seattle, WA – June 25, 2019 – Today, PayScale, Inc., the leader in modern compensation data and software, released new data called Biggest College Regrets which reflects the regrets related to college after students graduate. Overall, financial implications topped the list with “student loans” cited as the top regret, followed by “area of study” ranking second, particularly for those graduates who choose a major with lower income potential. One exception was those who graduated with an education degree. Despite employees in the education field typically earning less income, they reported having fewer regrets about the major they chose, indicating the profession provides a high level of satisfaction which may overcome the smaller paycheck.


“Our research shows the student debt crisis is impacting today’s graduates in a very real way. Not only are they struggling with the burden of student loans to pay for the rising costs of education, but they are then also faced with stagnant wages for jobs in many areas of study which have not kept pace with inflation when they enter the workforce.” said PayScale director, Wendy Brown. “While the experience of going to college is a cultural ideal for many, the cold realities of cost and income are making many students regret their college decisions.”


Here are some additional findings from PayScale’s Biggest College Regrets research:


  • Two thirds have some regret about college – Sixty-six percent of respondents reported they experienced a regret related to their college choices and experience.
  • Student loans topped the list of regrets – When asked what they regretted most about college, the most common response by far was student loans (27 percent).
  • Education graduates less regretful – Although education is not typically a high paying employment sector, respondents from this area of study were the second most likely to say they had no regrets, after engineering graduates.
  • Millennials more likely to feel burden of student loan – With the cost of an advanced degree skyrocketing in recent years, Millennials were twice as likely as Baby Boomers to cite loans as a college regret (29 percent compared to just 13 percent for older generations).


This research shows that deciding which college to attend and which major to study can have lasting implications for people, long past their actual college years. To view the more findings from the Biggest College Regrets research, please visit:


About PayScale

PayScale offers modern compensation software and the most precise, real-time, data-driven insights for employees and employers alike. More than 8,000 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use PayScale to power pay decisions for more than 23 million employees. These companies include Encana, Patagonia, The New York Times, Sunsweet, T-Mobile, United Health Group, Wendy’s and Perry Ellis. For more information, please visit: or follow PayScale on Twitter:

About PayScale:

As the industry leader in compensation data and technology, PayScale helps organizations #getpayright. PayScale is the only technology solution for managing compensation that provides multiple streams of fresh, transparently curated, and validated salary data. Combined with modeling engines that learn continuously and generate recommendations and insight, PayScale empowers HR to price jobs and adjust compensation to reflect near real-time changes in the market — all on one trusted data platform. With PayScale’s Adaptive Compensation Advantage, teams operate with efficiency, focused on outcomes rather than manual data management. To learn how companies like The Washington Post, Perry Ellis International, United Healthcare and The New York Times rely on PayScale to attract and retain top talent, engage employees and plan their future workforce, visit

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