Many reports show that stress, due to finances, consistently ranks among the highest sources of stress in young adults. One financial stress, in particular, is student loans. This is important because approximately 70% of college graduates have student loans that they must pay on after graduation. Graduates, along with students working towards a degree, may be very concerned about their debts and how they will pay it off in the future. These concerns can lead to long term stress, which is known to increase the risk of substance use, illness, and lower sense of well-being.
With surveys showing that self-reported health among young adults is reaching record lows, psychologists are searching for a correlation between student loans stress and overall student health. These tests were used to find possible differences between racial and ethnic groups. The authors of this article performed their work because of the lack of testing and research on this matter, and they compared two famous models pertaining to stress. The first is the transactional model of stress (TMS), where a situation is only as stressful as the person makes it out to be. With this model, everyone may have a certain stressor, but their actions and feelings towards the response will be much different. The other is the two-factor model (TFM) which is in the opposite direction of the TMS.
This model concludes that stressors evoke a response and leads to situational evaluation, instead of a person’s evaluation leading to a response. It was also taken into account that financial burdens and evaluations can vary based on gender, household income, and the education levels of the parents. With these factors in mind, the authors set out to discover the significance of student loan stress and other attributing factors that could magnify or reduce the response to the stress. Through the use of surveys that were sent out to college students, data was collected and organized to determine possible correlations.
After surveying college students across 28 colleges, it was found that the median student loan debt was $15,000 (Tran, Mintert, Llamas, Lam, 2018). Of the group of students that stated to have loans, approximately 25% of the sample stated they had no concern about their debt situation, approximately 50% stated they were slightly concerned, and approximately 25% answered that they were very concerned about their loans (Tran et al, 2018). It was found that the amount of student loan debt was positively correlated to the level of concern tied to the debt, but it was not always correlated to a person’s general health or symptoms of depression in the sampled group as a whole (Tran et al, 2018). Asian Americans did not show links between debt stress and general health, while White, African, and Latino Americans did show links between debt stress and health. (Tran et al, 2018). With African and Latino Americans, however, it was seen that debt stress was positively correlated with general health and symptoms of depression (Tran et al, 2018).
The authors concluded that the perspective on debt is more of a stressor than the debt itself. When referring to the models of stress, data favored the TMS rather than the TFM. When testing the TMS, the data tied together to show definitive correlations in terms of debt stress and health. When testing the TFM, there was varied results and poor correlational fitting into the data (Tran et al, 2018). The authors proposed that financial risks could influence the amount of stress that comes with loans. From this one can infer that those who can not easily pay their loans upon quitting school or graduating would tend to be more stressed about their debt. To ease the student loan stresses, it is mentioned that families should be taught about the whole process and given information to help further understand student loans, repayment options, and management of money (Tran et al, 2018).
This article is important due to the timing of its publishing. In a world where many work towards receiving a college degree, this article sheds light on the general health of students while they attend an institution. The subject of this article has a clear focus on millennials, a generation struggling with financing college and a generation that will be paying on these loans for many years to come. This article is valid because it uses various college campuses for sampling and the survey was completed by the same students every spring until graduation.
This is important because freshmen will not likely experience financial stress until the time to repay the loans draw closer. These findings apply to all college students or college graduates that are taking out or paying back student loans. It is eye opening to the numerous factors that could increase debt stress, such as financial distress at home, ethnic backgrounds, and education of one’s parents. It makes one realize that there is more to financial stress than having loans and the amount of the loans. A persons perspective on student debt can be the difference between little stress and large volumes of stress that can lead to health risks. Overall, it was a very informative article that sheds light on a situation that most college students are facing.