A survey reveals how struggles to find employment have led many grads to pursue additional schooling, but that choice also leads to increased 2020 graduates student loan debt

COVID is forcing 2020 graduates back to school–and increasing their debt


A survey reveals how struggles to find employment have led many grads to pursue additional schooling, but that choice also leads to increased student loan debt

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive unemployment, and many 2020 graduates are worried about their job prospects. In fact, many recent grads who are unable to find jobs have instead enrolled in graduate school when they weren’t originally planning to.

At least 25 percent of 2020 college graduates have not been able to find full-time employment since receiving their diplomas, compared to 58 percent of 2020 grads who have found full-time employment since graduating and 17 percent who preferred not to say. The data comes from a new survey by ResumeBuilder.com.

Of those who haven’t been able to land a job, 34 percent have already returned to grad school, while another 35 percent are considering it.

Forty-five percent of those returning to grad school said it was never part of their plans until the pandemic made it impossible to find a job, while 39 percent said it was always part of their plans.

Most survey respondents are heading back to school to get their masters degree (28 percent), while 14 percent are going for a doctoral degree, 12 percent are going for a technical, professional, or career program, 8 percent apiece for either a medical or associates degree, and 7 percent for a Juris Doctor degree.

Fifty-two percent of respondents who are heading back to school are taking on more student loan debt to do so–at a time when student loan debt is a much-debated issue due to the seemingly endless burden it places on loan holders. Thirty-three percent said they are not taking on additional debt, and 15 percent said they would rather not say.

When applicable respondents were then asked how much student loan debt they anticipate taking on to continue their education, the average amount was $40,564. Of respondents who are taking on student loan debt to continue their education because of the pandemic and recession, 57 percent had already taken on student loan debt to pursue their undergraduate degrees.

The survey found the average amount of student loan debt accumulated from undergraduate studies was $40,824 for this cohort that is taking on more student loan debt to continue their education due to the pandemic.

This means that for those respondents who took on student loan debt for both undergraduate studies and post-grad studies, the average total amount of student loan debt they are taking on is a whopping $81,388.

Chosen career field logically had a big impact on 2020 graduates’ ability to find employment. Graduates in the fields of biological and biomedical sciences, education, health professions, and computer and information sciences were generally more successful in finding employment.

The report is based on data that derives from an online survey conducted by Pollfish and commissioned by Resume Builder. One thousand adult Americans that graduated from a 4-year undergraduate college as part of the Class of 2020 participated in the survey.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione