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Student Loans Influence College Lifestyle

Student Loans Influence College LifestyleAs 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.

  • Play hard. Students without loan debt appeared most likely to live a lifestyle characterized by relatively little time studying but also characterized by a rich social life. Students tended to be much more involved in extracurricular activities and spent more time partying, developing relationships and networks that could last long after college.
  • Disengaged students. Some students with debt appeared to see it as a liability that kept them from partaking in campus life. They spent relatively little time on campus activities, including studying.
  • Serious students. Some students with debt appeared to accept the challenge and responsibility of the debt. They studied more than the other two categories of students, worked but also participated in extracurricular activities to prepare themselves for a good job after graduation. These students did not party much.

“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

Cost of college graduation photo by shutterstock.

Student Loans Influence College Lifestyle

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Student Loans Influence College Lifestyle. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/13/student-loans-influence-college-lifestyle/58347.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.