student loan, debt, survey
Results of a new poll show those with student loan debt have already made some pretty drastic sacrifices to save money. Many would even go further if it meant erasing their debt. (Photo credit: PHOTOBUAY/Shutterstock.com)

Survey Finds 4 in 5 Graduates Consider Student Loan Debt a Life Sentence

For many college graduates, student loan debt is such a large burden that some would take drastic measures — like shaving their heads, giving up caffeine or spending a week in jail — if it meant erasing it. A survey conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of Splash Financial, found that for 89% of respondents, student debt is a financial burden.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 undergraduate and 1,000 postgraduate degree holders, revealed that 47% of those with student loans consider it worrying or frustrating. Of those with debt, 4 in 5 consider it a life sentence.

Degree holders with debt have already admitted to taking drastic measures to save money in order to have the funds to pay their bills. Thirty-nine percent of respondents have skipped an event or social gathering to save money. Another 39% have taken up side jobs, while 36% have taken jobs they do not like but that pay well. Thirty-six percent have admitted to missing loved one’s life events — like weddings or births of babies — to avoid travel costs. Thirty-five percent have skipped a meal, and another 35% said they opted to live in a less safe neighborhood to save money on housing.

People are theoretically willing to sacrifice many comforts if it would mean erasing their debts. More than half of respondents said they would shave their heads if it meant they would no longer have to pay their student loan debt. Forty-nine percent said they’d walk to work for a month. Forty percent would opt to never have caffeine again, relive high school or work for a year with no time off if they could be debt-free. Thirty-nine percent would spend a week in jail.

Another recent study by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) found student loan debt also contributes to the racial wealth gap because it prevents people — especially people of color who statistically hold more money in student debt — from investing in items like homes that help them accumulate wealth. Opportunities for economic and social mobility — like acquiring higher education — are ironically holding students of color back because of debt.

Related Story: Student Debt a Large Contributor to Racial Wealth Gap, Study Finds

Student loan debt is affecting people long after they walk off stage with their diplomas.

Many of the respondents considered adult milestones — like buying a home (43%), saving for retirement (43%) or even getting married (35%) — financial impossibilities. Twenty-nine percent reported it was financially impossible to move out of their parents’ houses.

“These survey findings support the fact that the burden of student loans negatively impacts a person’s financial well-being and it often seems inescapable,” Splash Financial CEO Steve Muszynski told the New York Post. “From grocery shopping to relationship building, it is shaping everyday life. If we’re not careful, it could have massive cultural implications.”

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