How Carrying Student Loan Debt Can Impact Your Health

The majority of Americans with student debt are struggling to pay it back, according to a 2022 survey from ELVTR, an online education platform (via CNBC). And not only are 63% of the 2,000 respondents having difficulty making payments on their student loans, but more than half of the participants polled say that their mental health challenges are directly related to this stress.

The Biden administration has forgiven nearly 2% of all student loan debt as of September 2022 (via CNBC). Yet for most, this won't come close to canceling the amount they owe. The average student attending a public university takes out $32,880 in loans in order to receive a Bachelor's degree, according to the Education Data Initiative.

And experts say that the cost of college continues to rise. Black students have even more difficulty affording their loan payments (via CNBC). Four years after graduation, they owe $53,000 on average, while the average white borrower owes $28,000.

The health impacts of student loans

According to the ELVTR survey, this debt goes beyond financial burden. Researchers found that 54% of borrowers say that their student loan debt is impacting their mental health. Of that number, 56% have experienced anxiety and 32% have experienced depression because of the amount they owe. Another 20% suffer from insomnia and 17% have experienced panic attacks.

And instead of feeling confident in their decision to borrow money for a college degree, 59% of respondents say that they either regret borrowing the money or doubt whether it was a good idea. That leaves just 41% who feel sure about their investment.

Since 54.7% of American adults experiencing a mental health disorder don't get treatment (via Mental Health America), this toll on mental health could have disastrous effects. More than 10% of those with mental illness are uninsured, while 42% said they couldn't afford the care they needed.

Roman Peskin, the founder and CEO of ELVTR, says that while loan forgiveness is a good plan, it's only a bandage on a larger problem (via CNBC). As the cost of higher education is increasing more quickly than inflation, the student loan debt situation is going to get worse.