It seems like most aspects of American society have gotten tangled up in student loan issues. Researchers have tied student loan debt to problems in the housing market and slow economic growth. The latest thing suffering from this glut of education debt is borrowers’ physical well-being, according to researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of California, Los Angeles.
The study focuses on nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, looking at the mental health of people after they graduate from college, when they’re between the ages of 25 and 31. The researchers found a correlation between student loan debt and symptoms of depression — the larger the borrower’s debt, the more extreme their symptoms. The correlation held true after adjustments for multiple factors, including parents’ income and socioeconomic status growing up.
The study’s lead author, Katrina Walsemann, said there’s more research to be done, but the relationship between well-being and education debt didn’t seem to surprise her, noting that student loans “follow you for the rest of your life until you pay them off,” she told Science Daily.
It’s true, student loans are a different beast than other forms of consumer debt. They’re nearly impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, and defaulting on them can lead to wage garnishment, even Social Security garnishment, for decades. Student loan repayment options have improved, though rapid enrollment in federal income-based repayment will reportedly cost the government $22 billion this year.
When paid on time, student loans can help you establish a strong credit history, but falling behind can cause serious credit damage that will take years to bounce back from, because payment history is the biggest factor in your credit score. You can see how your student loans affect your credit by getting two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. As soon as it seems you might not be able to afford your payments, look into repayment options and contact your student loan servicer so you can avoid a costly delinquency on your credit report.
More on Student Loans:
- How Student Loans Can Impact Your Credit
- A Credit Guide for College Graduates
- Strategies for Paying Off Student Loan Debt