College graduates are facing ever-growing amounts of student loan debt, eclipsing $1.3 trillion in January, and Americans are desperate to get out from under its shadow — some are even willing to cut off their pinky fingers.
Almost 70 percent of graduates with a bachelor’s degree finished school with debt, leaving them in a crippled financial state. America’s graduating class of 2015 has roughly an average of $35,051 in student debt. It’s a dire situation and potential economic bubble, according to investors like Mark Cuban, and is leaving young graduates desperate, reports Market Watch.
A majority of borrowers would abstain from alcohol and drugs for life, give up coffee forever and take a punch in the face from Mike Tyson if they could have their student debt erased, according to a February survey by LendEDU. Almost 40 percent would take a year off their life and give up texting if it meant no more loan debt.
“We think it is clear that current student loan borrowers are feeling pressured by their debt,” Nate Matherson, founder and CEO of LendEDU said in the study. “It is interesting to see the lengths that current borrowers are willing to go to payoff their student debt.”
Recent studies show historic levels of student loan debt are forcing young people to delay many important financial decisions. American Student Assistance found 73 percent of student loan borrowers have put off retirement savings and nearly 50 percent have delayed starting a family. Experts warn the real world implications of student debt are mounting and will have lifelong consequences, reports Market Watch.
While younger borrowers may be blocked by their debt from securing a mortgage or buying a first car, the risks can be even more perilous for older individuals still facing debt from their education. Roughly 36,000 Americans lost partial social security benefits in 2013 due to outstanding federal student loan debt. Some experts say the problem lies with education on financial topics, not with the idea of student debt itself.
“What a lot of students don’t understand is that student debt is an investment in your future,” John Pelletier, the head of the Center for Financial Literacy told Market Watch. “A perfect example of what I think is missing at a lot of high schools is one of the key topics in financial literacy, understanding the connection between career and income.”
Many borrowers understand this fact and do not take their student loan problems to extremes, but the survey from LendEDU does show some alarming exceptions. To get rid of their debt, roughly 28 percent of people would name their first born daughter Sallie Mae, historically a corporation that provides the main source of student loans.
Venturing into the even more bizarre, nearly 6.5 percent of respondents in the survey would cut off their pinky finger and just over 4 percent would willingly contract a lifelong sexually transmitted disease to erase their debt. And 4.5 percent would move to Syria for the rest of their days to be debt free.
Matherson points out in the survey, “Unfortunately, none of these options are currently available under the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.”
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