LGBTQ Student Loan Borrowers Face Rough Road: Survey

 June 24, 2019
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Having to work multiple jobs and scraping by paycheck to paycheck, with the lingering worry that you’ll probably never be able to buy a house.

Many in the LGBTQ community are so concerned with such fallout from their student loans that they regret borrowing at all. In fact, 54% of those surveyed said they wish they’d avoided education debt, only a slight decrease from the 60% figure cited in our 2018 survey of LGBTQ borrowers.

Student loans weighed heavily on respondents from all income levels, particularly because of the specific problems LGBTQ students endure, such as discrimination in their own home and when seeking outside help with their finances.

Unfortunately, LGBTQ community members also reported feeling behind on other financial goals, including retirement planning, due in no small part to their student loan, credit card and other debt.

Key findings

  • About 3 in 10 LGBTQ borrowers say their student loan debt is unmanageable. Slightly less — 23% — feel their debt is “very manageable,” while most (48%) said their debt is “somewhat manageable.”
  • Despite their regrets about borrowing, 62% are glad they went to college. Most (58%) reported feeling accepted by their college peers — although more than 1 in 10 did not feel accepted.
  • Roughly 4 in 10 LGBTQ borrowers said they’ve been denied financial help due to their sexual orientation. About 14% of them said they’d experienced this discrimination on multiple occasions.
  • Student loans have also stopped 87% of respondents from reaching key financial milestones. Specific goals missed due to student debt include homebuying (41%), moving out (27%), buying a first car (23%), starting a family (19%) and getting married (18%).
  • Nearly 6 in 10 LGBTQ borrowers also have other types of debt. Credit card debt (63%) is by far the most common, but other sources include auto loans (38%), personal loans (20%) and mortgages (16%).
  • The majority of borrowers in the LGBTQ community (65%) are familiar with student loan refinancing, but only 38% have refinanced their debt. Those who have refinanced said they mainly did so to lower monthly payments or lower their interest rate. Ultimately, 63% of those who refinanced said refinancing helped them move closer to their financial goals.

Many LGBTQ borrowers have more student loan debt than they can handle

The LGBTQ community includes many student loan borrowers with regrets — again, 54% polled say they wish they could have a redo.

“I regret taking out my student loans because my degree didn’t help me get a well-enough-paying job to cover the cost of living, plus my student loan debt,” said one respondent. “Now I am stuck working two jobs just to stay above water, which is very frustrating.”

Although the reasons for regret vary, having taken on too much debt is a common theme. Nearly 29% of LGBTQ borrowers feel their debt isn’t manageable, though a plurality of respondents (48%) describe their debt as “somewhat manageable.”

Finding a well-salaried job isn’t necessarily a problem unique to LGBTQ borrowers — among all college seniors with loans to repay, about 7 in 10 expressed doubt they’d be able to make ends meet, according to a recent Student Loan Hero survey.

Still, LGBTQ professionals undoubtedly face more obstacles in the workplace than the average college graduate. In fact, 1 in 4 LGBTQ workers report facing discrimination at their job within the last five years, according to nonprofit Out & Equal Workplace Advocates’ 2019 report.

But despite some regrets, 62% of borrowers in the LGBTQ community say they’re glad they attended college. For some, it’s one of the places in society where they felt most accepted — about 58% reported feeling welcomed by peers on campus.

Some LGBTQ borrowers get turned away by financial professionals

Unfortunately, many LGBTQ members in debt have found a less-welcoming atmosphere away from their college campus. About 40% of the borrowers we surveyed said their sexual orientation caused others to decline to offer financial help. And 14% report multiple instances of this type of discrimination.

In fact, the number of LGBTQ individuals denied financial assistance due to their sexual orientation increased from our 2018 survey, from 32% to 40%.

“Reaching out for financial help is hard enough. Throw in discrimination and homophobia, and it can be downright miserable,” said David Rae, the founder of a Los Angeles-based wealth management firm. “Look for resources specifically tailored for the LGBT community. I’m not alone as an out and proud financial planner.”

Chicago-based financial planner Brian Thompson, whose clients include LGBTQ couples, agrees that more financial-service providers are reaching out to the community. “My advice is to look for non-traditional places. We’re out there and eager to help.”

And there are some encouraging signs out there, including the growing number of scholarships reserved for LGBTQ undergrads.

And some also lack key support from family

Aside from facing the possibility of discrimination in public settings, 60% of our survey respondents also reported feeling at least partially unwelcome within their own families. In addition, about 28% reported that they have been kicked out of the home because of their sexuality.

A lack of family support could harm LGBTQ individuals right out of the gate. Without parental support, students could end up taking out more loans. Parents can also play a broad role in securing financial aid, such as by providing their information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Without mom, dad or more family in their corner, LGBTQ borrowers’ repayment could also be harmed. Those who report not feeling at least somewhat accepted by their families are more likely to say their debt is unmanageable (38%) than those who feel accepted at home (26%). They’re also more likely to report not being on the right track for retirement (62% versus 45%).

“Knowing that people will have your back, or possibly provide financial support if things get hairy, helps keep us in a healthy mental state,” said John Schneider, a co-host of the Queer Money podcast. “In addition, those that have familial support are more likely to also have financial support when they leave the home, compared to those that are leaving because their home is not a welcoming place.”

And there may be other less-obvious, and potentially dangerous, consequences. LGBTQ student borrowers who don’t feel supported by their families are twice as likely to report that their debt has kept them from leaving a bad relationship. Overall, 15% said their student loans had kept them from walking away from an ill-fitting partner.

With overwhelming debt comes unachieved financial goals

With a heavy student loan debt burden in some cases and a lack of a support system in others, it’s no surprise that 87% of LGBTQ borrowers are falling behind on their other financial goals.

Most notably, 41% of respondents say their debt had stopped them from being able to buy a home. Other financial goals left unmet include:

  • Pursuing passions (35%)
  • Traveling (26%)
  • Moving out (27%)
  • Buying a first car (23%)
  • Starting a family (19%)
  • Getting married (18%)

At the same time, student loans aren’t the only money-related problem for many of the LGBTQ individuals we surveyed. About 57% report being burdened by other types of debt. Credit card debt is far and away the biggest bugaboo of those respondents, at 63%, although that figure was down significantly from 79% in our 2018 survey results.

“This is the first bit of good credit-card-debt news we’ve seen in a while,” said Schneider, also a founder of Debt Free Guys, adding that perhaps a somewhat stronger economy may have helped matters.

In 2019, auto loans (38%), personal loans (20%), mortgages (16%) and shorter-term loans (15%) also accounted for LGBTQ borrowers’ debt.

Student loans and secondary debt have also dimmed many LGBTQ borrowers’ hopes in terms of saving for retirement: Nearly half of the people we surveyed (48%) don’t think they’re on the right track, with 56% saying they don’t even have a retirement investment account, such as a 401(k) or IRA.

“I can’t save,” one respondent told us. “I contribute a small amount to a 401(k), but it’s not significant enough for retirement — yet [it’s] all I can barely afford.”

Finding student loan relief via refinancing, other strategies

For LGBTQ borrowers, there’s no single solution to all of their student loan concerns. Some could benefit from pursuing student loan forgiveness or enrolling in income-driven repayment (if they have federal student loans), while others might be better off cutting expenses and throwing extra income at their outstanding balance.

For creditworthy LGBTQ borrowers — or those with creditworthy cosigners — student loan refinancing could offer some relief. It allowed some of the survey’s respondents to either decrease their monthly payment or reduce their interest rate, along with providing the additional perk of consolidating multiple older loans into one new, simpler repayment.

While 65% of the borrowers surveyed say they are familiar with the practice of refinancing, only about 38% report having gone ahead with it. That’s a significant departure from the approximate 66% who said they refinanced in our 2018 LGBTQ survey.

Of those who did refinance in this latest survey, however, 63% say it helped them advance toward achieving other financial goals.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.88% – 6.15%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.88% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.50% – 6.85%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.89% – 5.90%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.59%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.88% – 5.64%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

1.90% – 5.25%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

2.13% – 5.25%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Interest Rate Disclosure

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.48% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.

Auto Pay Discount Disclosure

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples

These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.59% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.


6 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

1. NaviRefi loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC, a member of the Navient family of companies, subject to individual approval and underwriting criteria. California residents only: Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license. Additional terms and conditions apply.

– To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen permanent resident of the United States, reside in a state we lend in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.navirefi.com/help-and-questions. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Loan terms are subject to eligibility. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application. Loan approval is subject to confirmation that your debt-to-income, free cash flow, credit history and application information meet the minimum requirements. You must have a minimum FICO score to be considered.

– You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.75% – 6.04% APR (2.50% – 5.79% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.13% – 5.89% APR (1.88% – 5.64% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.

– You can take advantage of the 0.25% Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. NaviRefi rate ranges are current as of June 1, 2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

– The information provided on this page is updated as of 06/1/2021. Earnest Operations LLC reserves the right to modify or discontinue (in whole or in part) this loan program and its associated services and benefits at any time without notice. Check www.navirefi.com for the most up-to-date information. Terms and Conditions apply. Call 855-284-4893 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

– Earnest Operations LLC – NMLS #1204917, CA CFL #6054788 – 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105.
Navient Solutions, LLC – NMLS #212430 – 123 Justison St., Wilmington, DE 19801. Visit https://navirefi.com/lending-licenses for a full list of licensed states.


7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.