A new study reveals what those of us carrying large loads of student debt probably already knew: Those college loan payments aren’t hurting just your bank account.


University of South Carolina researchers surveyed 4,600 students and degree holders ages 25-31, asking them to complete five questions that acted as markers of psychological health. They then took those results and compared them to the levels of student loan debt each respondent held.

The researchers found that even when controlling for factors like income levels or family wealth, “cumulative student loans were significantly and inversely associated with better psychological functioning.” They also found an effect for “yearly student loans borrowed,” suggesting that both having high levels of debt and taking the large loans out in the first place were stressing the respondents out.

The study also found “occupational trajectories” and “health inequities” were impacted among student debt holders, meaning that loans may be forcing students and graduates off their preferred career paths and to delay getting married or starting a family…”We are speculating that part of the reason that these types of loans are so stressful is the fact that you cannot defer them, they follow you for the rest of your life until you pay them off,” lead author Katrina Walsemann told ScienceDaily. “We speculate that the American middle class is suffering the most from post-graduation debt, since they do not qualify for governmental assistance, nor is their family able to take on the bulk of the costs associated with college.”

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Where’s Chilean student-debt-burning activist Francisco “Papas Fritas” Tapia when you need him?

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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