As college costs rise, so does the proportion of students who seek a loan to pay for their education.
Sixty percent of college students are in debt to cover costs and, according to a new study, students’ college experiences are largely shaped by the debt they accrue.
Indiana University researchers study found that debt-free students are more likely to live the “play hard” lifestyle often associated with the college years, where social lives can trump academics.
Sociologist Daniel Rudel, Ph.D., said this is one of the first studies to examine how student loan debt affects students’ college experiences.
Rudel and colleagues found “real and significant differences in experiences,” with students generally in one of three categories.
“These patterns could affect the social connections and networking students develop in college, where these relationships can lead to friendships, employment, marriage partners and other benefits,” Rudel said.
Researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, housed in the Office of Population Research at Princeton University. Students interviewed from 1999 to 2003 attended one of 28 selective U.S. institutions: nine liberal arts colleges, 14 private research universities, four public research universities and one historically black college.
Rudel said college and university staff might want to consider whether their programs address challenges students face as they manage their financial obligations.
Many people, in general, might not be aware of what college really is like for students with loan debt.
“We aren’t saying what college students should or should not be doing,” Rudel said. “But the lifestyles of students with debt diverge from the script people have of what college should be like.”
Source: Indiana University