Money Health

47% of Graduates Say Student Loan Debt Affects Mental Health

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From a young age, we’re taught to work hard in school so that we can go to college and succeed in our professional lives. However, what we’re not often taught is just how expensive college can be. After graduation, many of us are stuck with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt.

Student loan debt can make it difficult for you to accomplish important milestones like buying a house or retiring; but student loans don’t just get in the way of your financial wellbeing. There’s also a legitimate concern about the detrimental relationship between student loans and mental health.

In a recent Freedom Debt Relief survey, we asked over 1,500 Americans to tell us how student loans have affected their health and emotional well-being. Here’s what they said:

With the national student loan debt in the U.S. reaching $1.6 trillion in 2020, it’s no wonder student loan debt is a huge source of stress for college graduates. In fact, most college graduates agree that their student loans are more stressful than any other kind of debt they owe.

And when you’re up against so much student loan debt, it’s easy to feel defeated. Thirty-one percent of graduates surveyed believe that they won’t be able to pay back their student loans in their lifetime. This could be why so many of the people we surveyed stated that their student loan debt is affecting aspects of their personal lives—including their mental and physical health, personal relationships, and even their ability to sleep at night.

Although the responsibility of repaying your student loans may be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to take over your health and well-being. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce student loan stress and enjoy a higher quality of life. Here are some tips to help you alleviate student loan stress.

Understand your student loans

Ignoring your debt situation won’t do much to help your student loans and mental health situation. Rather than just making your monthly minimum payments and going on with your life, take the time to thoroughly understand your student loans.

Find all of your loans, get to know your payment options, and become familiar with the details of each loan. If you have any questions, reach out to your lender or a financial professional. By understanding how much you owe, you can put your student loan debt in perspective and figure out a plan to pay it off faster.

Sign up for automatic payments

The easiest way to ensure you never miss a student loan payment is to sign up for automatic payments. Automatic payments can help you stay on top of your student loans while saving on late fees. Since some lenders offer discounts for those who enroll in automatic payments, you might even be able to save money. Lastly, automatic payments could help reduce your stress since you won’t have to worry about whether or not you made your payments on time.

Seek employer assistance

Since many of their employees are struggling with student loans, some businesses offer repayment assistance. Your employer may match a certain amount of money in student loan payments if you’re a full-time employee. It’s worth consulting your manager or human resources department to find out if this is an option.

Consider student loan refinancing

When you refinance your student loans, a lender takes your loan or loans and combines them into one loan with a new rate and repayment schedule. By refinancing your student loans, you may be able to land a lower monthly payment, which will free up cash for other expenses.

When you have more money to put towards your living expenses, retirement, vacations, and other things that are important to you, you’ll feel less stressed about your student loans. Your monthly paychecks could then go towards other things you care about.

Tackle your other debt

If you have other debt like a car loan or credit card debt, focus on paying it off. Tackling this other debt may seem stressful at first, and it might require you to cut your expenses or take on a side job. But once your other debt is paid off, you’ll free up money that can be put towards your student loans. This can help reduce your stress in the long run because you’ll be able to pay off your student loans faster.

Although student loans can negatively affect your health, following these tips can help ease some of the financial and emotional burden they cause. With hard work, optimism, and persistence, you can achieve your dream of becoming student loan debt free.

Try our guide to help you manage your debt

There’s no doubt that the connection between student loans and mental health is a strong one. Thankfully, learning how to deal with debt, money, and planning for your future doesn’t need to be hard and could help with stress management. We’ve developed a simple to follow guide to help you find the tools you need to move to a better financial future. Get started by downloading our free guide right now.

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Anna Baluch is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all personal finance topics. She’s particularly interested in mortgages, retirement, insurance, and investing.