Study: Loan debt can shape students' college years, experiences

Aug 10, 2013

An Indiana University study found that college students' experiences are largely shaped by the debt they accrue, with debt-free students more likely to live the "play hard" lifestyle often associated with the college years, where social lives can trump academics.

Sociologist Daniel Rudel said this is one of the first studies to examine how student loan debt affects students' college experiences. He and colleague Natasha Yurk, also a in the Department of Sociology in IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, found "real and significant differences in experiences," with students falling fairly easily into 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 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 after graduation. These students did not party much.

"These patterns could affect the and networking students develop in college, where these relationships can lead to , employment, marriage partners and other benefits," Rudel said.

Rudel and Yurk will discuss the study, "Responsibility or Liability? Student Loan Debt and Time Use in College," in New York at 4:30 p.m. Saturday during the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Rudel and Yurk 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."

Explore further: Researcher's proposal touts savings accounts to ease student debt crisis

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

College students and credit card debt—parents at fault?

Oct 18, 2012

Parents need to be good role models to help their children make sensible financial decisions, according to Adam Hancock and his team, from East Carolina University in the US. Their work highlights that parents who argue about ...

When college diversity delivers benefits

Jul 22, 2013

The benefits of race-conscious college admissions are only fully realized under certain conditions, concludes new University of Maryland-led research. To stimulate meaningful cross-racial engagement, incoming freshman classes ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

verkle
1.3 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2013
Seriously.
Some serious students with debt appeared to accept the challenge and responsibility of the debt....


What a general statement. What does it mean? Can we also say
Some serious students without debt appeared to accept the challenge and responsibility of the 4-year institution?


Doesn't sound very scientific.

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...