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The Uncertainty of Student Loan Debt

Posted on Feb 14, 2023 10:30:00 AM | By The Attigo Team
woman on the phone looking over finances

Student loan debt has long been a source of uncertainty for many borrowers, but heading into 2023, that uncertainty is reaching stressful new levels. With the future of student loan debt relief hanging in the balance, many borrowers are left wondering when or if repayment will restart after years of payment pause. Things are even more unclear for the 25 million people who would still have remaining student loan debt balances after the proposed student loan debt relief. (Source: Congressional Budget Office).

Current state of proposed relief plan

The future of the proposed One-time Federal Student Loan Debt Relief plan is currently in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court (Source: CNN). Lawsuits have blocked the rollout of President Biden’s plan until the court reaches a decision in the matter. In December 2022, the court announced it will begin hearing arguments in the case in late February 2023 (Source: Forbes). To date, 16 million borrowers have already been approved for the plan, with millions more eligible to apply; however, new applications are currently paused, and no loans have been forgiven.

Although the student loan repayment pause has been extended for the eighth time in more than three years, the pause is expected to end 60 days after the lawsuits are resolved or on June 30, 2023; whichever comes first (Source: NerdWallet). Depending on how quickly the court makes their decision, borrowers could need to be ready to resume payment as early as Spring 2023.

The future beyond debt relief

Even if the proposed student loan debt relief program survives the U.S. Supreme Court, the truth is that many borrowers will still suffer under the financial burden of student loans.

Student Loan Forgiveness by the Numbers


$1.6 trillion
Current balance of all federal student loan debt.

43 million
Number of borrowers with federal student loan debt.

(Source: Congressional Budget Office)

Post Student Loan Debt Relief

$1.17 trillion
Expected remaining balance of federal student loan debt after relief plan.

25 million
Number of borrowers who would still have student loan debt after relief plan.

By nature of the amount of education required for certain jobs, student loan borrowers in some career sectors may bear the burden of lingering student loans more than others.

Average Indebtedness of Professional Career Sectors


  • Associate Degree Nursing (ADN): $19,928 average debt.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): $23,711 average debt.
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): $47,321 average debt. (Source: NerdWallet)


  • The average law student graduates with $130,000 in student loan debt.


  • Civil engineering (Bachelor’s Degree): $24,620 average debt.
  • General engineering (Master’s Degree): $33,240 average debt.
  • Computer engineering (Master’s Degree): $42,650 average debt. (Source: Education Data Initiative

The estimated 25 million borrowers with remaining loan debt, especially in certain professional career sectors, may still need student loan support, especially in challenging economic times. In fact, these borrowers are already struggling with financial stress — a reality that not only affects their mental and physical wellbeing, but costs U.S. employers over $4 billion in lost productivity each year (Source: HR Morning).

What it means for employers

In addition to the lost productivity costs, the issue of student loans is also contributing to additional costs in turnover, training and recruitment for employers.

Student Loan Debt and the Workforce

Percentage of employees who would increase their commitment to their employer if offered Student Loan Repayment Assistance (SLRA).
Employees rank SLRA as the third most important benefit to receive, behind retirement contributions and health/dental insurance.
Percentage of employees who turned down a job at least one to three times due to dissatisfaction with benefits.
Percentage of employees who say their work performance would improve if their employer contributed to their student loan.
Annual amount employers can contribute to an employee’s student loans tax-free through 2025.

What happens next?

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the future of student loan debt will remain at least until the U.S. Supreme Court reaches a decision about the One-time Federal Student Loan Debt Relief plan. Regardless of that decision, a large number of borrowers will still face the negative impacts of student loan debt well into the future. In the meantime, employers can position themselves and their employees for success.

  • Stay up to date. Be sure to follow the news about student loan debt relief so that you and your employees can prepare for any changes.
  • Listen to what your employees want. Employees are voicing their desire for financial wellness support. Be sure you’re giving them an open channel to discuss their needs in order to increase employee loyalty and reduce turnover.
  • Research repayment support options. Whether it’s loan counseling or SLRA, it’s important to know what options are available to help your employees. Get familiar with vendors offering support programs and decide what benefit option best fits your company’s needs.
  • Strengthen your benefits package. Make sure your benefits package offers the things job seekers value most to help give you an edge over your competitors.

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