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Student Loan Debt Taking Psychological Toll on Today’s Grads

We all know that debt is hard on the bank account. But now it appears it’s also hard on the psyche. Struggling under the weight of student loan debt and credit card debt, today’s young adults are stressed and unhappy.

It’s estimated that 7 in 10 college seniors now graduates with some level of student loan debt, with the average debt topping out at $29,400 as of last year. However, it’s not uncommon for many students to have debts well over $100,000.

So just how much does that debt impact grads’ wellbeing? A recent survey of 30,000 grads by Gallup-Purdue University reports that college graduates without debt are seven times as likely to be happy and thriving as those with $40,000 in debt. According to the study, the higher the loan amount the grads took out for the school, the lower their well-being in terms of happiness within their finances, health, community and social lives.

Grads with massive student loan debts are less likely to start business, buy homes or even get married. They may have a harder time finding the right job, moving out of their parents’ home, or building credit in the critical first years after college.

One thing that didn’t seem to impact happiness level was the type of college attended. In other words, young adults who went to prestigious private universities weren’t any happier or healthier than those who went to large public schools. What did matter were relationships with professors. Students who found support and encouragement, internships, and involvement in long-term projects were more likely to have positive post-graduation experiences. If you or your child is preparing to pick a college, it may be worth considering an affordable university or community college with a strong program. And of course, the more scholarships and grants you apply for, the better chance you have of snagging help paying for school.

If you’ve already graduated and you’re having a hard time finding your financial footing because of overwhelming student debt, you have options. While bankruptcy is unable to discharge most student debts, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that at least a quarter of U.S. workers may be eligible for loan forgiveness or repayment programs. Graduates with federal loans and those who work in the nonprofit and public sector are most likely to qualify for loan forgiveness. But regardless of your situation, your loan provider should be able to help you determine which program is right for you.

Still bogged down by bills? Sometimes, student loans can lead to credit card debt and debt owed to family members. Other times, medical bills or other surprise expenses may interfere with your ability to make education loan payments. If other forms of debt are making life difficult, bankruptcy may be a solution. Schedule your personal debt evaluation with a DebtStoppers bankruptcy attorney today to learn more.

Grads with more debt are less happy, by Blake Ellis, CNN Money

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