Does Student Loan Debt Make People Less Happy and Healthy?

Career College Central Summary:

  • People with student debt report worse health and greater financial stress long after they finish their degree, a new study from Gallup shows.
  • The survey looked at 11,000 students who have graduated college since 1990 and found that people who took out more than $50,000 in loans rate their physical and financial status at least 10 points lower than their debt-free peers.
  • The findings offer a window into the deeply personal impact debt may have on students across the country, who are taking out more and larger loans than ever.
  • Some research suggests that college is nonetheless worth its rising ticket price and that graduating doubles the hourly wages of workers.
  • It’s also true that the vast majority of students are not facing six-figure unpaid education bills.
  • Eleven percent of Gallup respondents had $50,000 or more in debt, and broader data sets indicate that somewhere between 7 percent and 13 percent (PDF) of the almost 40 million student borrowers across the country have debts in that range.
  • To jump to the conclusion that student loans ruin lives, however, would be an oversimplification.
  • The study warned that it’s not necessarily the high debt that made this group less healthy or happy.
  • Other things that make people take out loans, like their family’s wealth or the type of college they attend, “may be the same factors that influence graduates’ future well-being,” Gallup said.
  • The study also doesn’t account for people who took out loans but left college without a degree, a group that’s about four times as likely to hold student debt today as in 1989, according to a Brookings Institution study.

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