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

August 10th, 2013 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences

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.

"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."

Provided by Indiana University

"Study: Loan debt can shape students' college years, experiences." August 10th, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-08-loan-debt-students-college-years.html