When you're in college, your focus is on studying and enjoying time with your friends on campus, but then your senior year arrives. A few months later, you're back at home and loan payment slips start to show up in your mailbox. This scenario is all too common. New research shows that graduates who are in debt from student loans are not too happy, and their health is paying the price too.
The more you owe, the more your health suffers with your bank account, a new Gallup study found. American college graduates who borrowed $50,000 or more to pay for their education had poorer health, more financial struggles, and felt a loss of purpose. For the study, researchers analyzed data from a survey of over 11,000 U.S. adults. All the participants graduated from college between 1990 and 2014. They were asked if they were "thriving" when it came to purpose, finances, social lives, community pride, and physical well-being, and rated themselves in each category.
Researchers found that participants who had the most debt had more financial trouble and reported that physically, their body had also suffered. Students who had no debt reported higher quality of lives, which included better health and more financial stability. Socially, there was not much difference between those who were in debt and those who weren't.
The poll also revealed that students who graduated in the 1990s were still dealing with student loan woes. They reported poorer wellness when it came to finances, physical health, and purpose, when compared to those who never took loans out. What's concerning is that it's been nearly 20 years, and these graduates are still dealing with the ill effects of their student loans.
Some of the factors that led former students to take out loans included their family’s household income, socio-economic status, the type of school they were attending, the chosen field of study, and the student’s ability to get scholarships or financial aid. More than half of the participants took out loans to pay for college, and an estimated 11 percent of total graduates borrowed over $50,000.
More than 40 million Americans have student debt, and over the last 15 years, student debt has increased by more than 500 percent. The Gallup poll reported that undergraduate and graduate debt has skyrocketed to a total of $1 trillion. Seventy percent of the class of 2013 graduated with debt, with the average student owing about $35,200, according to CNN. During his tenure, President Obama created a student loan forgiveness program to help lower student payments, making them more affordable for graduates. The purpose of the program is to encourage more people to go to college and help eliminate some student loan debt.