Research released last week by Citizens Bank shows that college graduates aged 35 and under with student loans now are spending 18 percent, nearly one-fifth, of their current salaries on student loan payments and that 60 percent now expect to be paying off student loans into their 40s.

According to The College Board, the cost of college has increased 13 percent for public four-year colleges, and 11 percent for private non-profit four year colleges in the last five years. To help pay for college, more than three quarters of survey respondents, 77 percent, indicated they had received federal loans. One third of respondents said they had received private student loans, which typically are smaller and in most cases require a credit-qualified co-signer.At the same time, fewer than 50 percent have looked into refinancing options to lower their monthly payments, consolidate their private and federal loans or otherwise improve the terms of their loans, according to the Millennial Graduates in Debt survey.

“The long-term cost of college continues to be a major challenge for Millennials, even after they have established themselves in the workforce and significantly improved their credit from where they were when they started school,” said Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer lending for the bank. “As this generation of college graduates starts to contemplate future life events– like home purchases and retirement– it becomes increasingly important for them to take control of their college debt, whether it’s through refinancing or other tactics that can help them limit its impact on their overall financial health.”

Citizens is the only national bank to offer refinancing options for both private and federal student loans to credit-qualified borrowers. On average, its Education Refinance Loan reduces a borrower’s student loan payments by $1,764 per year.

The debt survey found graduates with student loans grappling with trade-offs required to make their student loan payments every month: They include 54 percent have limited their travel; 50 percent have limited their shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories; 46 percent have limited their spending on entertainment and social event; 45 percent have limited their spending on eating out; and 40 percent have limited the amount they can spend on rent or mortgage payments

In light of this, some Millennials now express buyer’s remorse regarding their college investment, with 57 percent saying they regret taking out as many student loans as they did.

More than one-third (36 percent) said they would not have gone to college if they had known how much it was going to cost them.

“Unfortunately, the long-term cost of college is leading some graduates to question the value of their investment – in many cases, before they have fully explored their opportunities to significantly reduce their payments,” Coughlin said.

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