Student loan debt in the U.S. has reached staggering new heights in recent years, and it’s had a huge impact on recent graduates and their families, many of whom are helping to see their children through the trying financial situation they’ve landed in post-graduation. Student loan debt is now greater than credit card debt in this country, a fact that serves as an excellent reality check about the severity of this problem. The folks shouldering these loans don’t need any reminders, though. They are aware every day of the pressure this debt is putting on them financially and otherwise.
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In order to help us understand the toll this debt is taking on the young workers who have absorbed it, the personal finance site MyBankTracker conducted a survey this past summer of over 200 of its users. The median age of those surveyed was 32 (student loan debt isn’t just for 20-somethings anymore) and their average debt balance was $34,500. Individuals were asked a series of questions in order to assess just how far they would be willing to go to eliminate their student loans.
Participants were asked to decide whether or not they would take part in each given activity assuming that it would totally eliminate their loan debt. They were able to answer either yes or no to each scenario. Let’s take a look at some of the findings.
1. More than half would be willing to turn their life into a reality show.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said, yes, they would be willing to forsake their privacy and participate in a reality show in order to totally eliminate their student loan debt. Maybe this shouldn’t be so surprising, though; after all, a lot of people actually want to be on TV. Surely some of the respondents would be more than happy to participate in a reality show, whether or not their loan debt was a part of the equation. But, maybe not 55 percent….
2. Many said they would sell half of their possessions.
Of those surveyed, 43 percent agreed that they’d be willing to part with half of their possessions in order to eliminate their debt. And, maybe this shouldn’t surprise us either. Loan debt has made it difficult for millennials to get ahead, and as a result they’ve delayed marriage, home ownership, and even purchasing a car in many cases. When you begin your career so far behind the starting line, it can be hard to acquire many valuable assets.
“Live at home for as long as you and your parents can stand it. I get it; nobody wants to go back and live in their parents’ basement,” Thomas Scanlon of Raymond James Financial told Bankrate.com. “The reality is, with student debt, a car loan, cellphone bill, car insurance and some spending money, most of the paycheck is gone. Live at home and save the rent.”
3. About a third of those surveyed would sell an organ, or participate in a “questionable health study.”
Thirty percent of respondents said they’d agree to sell an organ in order to settle their student loan debt. Similarly, 38 percent indicated that they would be willing to participate in a questionable health study in order to eliminate their debt. However, it is important to consider that the majority of folks would not be willing to go quite this far.
“I don’t think they’re making drastic decisions or would take drastic measures – but what it does tell me is that they’d rather get rid of their debt quicker than adapting to it over time and making it part of your day to day reality,” Alex Matjanec, co-founder of MyBankTracker, told Forbes. “They don’t want to multitask, they just want to get it out of the way.”
Be sure to check out the full survey for more information.
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