Great Advice for Grads 2023

Student Debt Can Make You Sick: 3 Ways to Deal With the Stress BY TREA BRANCH

At a staggering $1.76 trillion, student debt is among the largest debt in the U.S. — second only to mortgages — affecting over 43 million Americans, according to federal data. And it’s taking a toll on borrowers’ mental and physical well-being. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine links higher student debt to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and related conditions. The authors of its 2022 report concluded that as student debt piles up, the health risk to borrowers could undermine the health benefits of postsecondary education. In addition to long-term effects on physical health, the debt burden also puts a strain on borrowers’ mental health. Among borrowers on track to receive Public Service Loan Forgiveness with 37-48 student loan payments remaining, 18% reported suicidal thoughts, per a 2022 study by the Student Borrower Protection Center. According to the study, this is at least double the percentage of those who noted suicidal thoughts with fewer remaining payments, or who had already reached forgiveness. Similar results were found in a survey by the Education Trust, a nonprofit education advocacy group, that looked at the disproportionate impact of student debt on Black borrowers. Of the 1,272 Black borrowers surveyed, 64% said student debt had a negative impact on their mental health. When interviewed, respondents mentioned experiencing a “loss of confidence, high levels of stress, anxiety, and suicidal ideation,” according to a summary of the 2021 study. Given the impact of debt on borrowers’ well-being, anyone feeling burdened by student loans should find ways to manage their mental health as well as their finances.



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