The numbers are intimidating: 40 million Americans owe roughly $1.2 trillion in student debt as of mid-June. As Kyle McCarthy observed in a Huffington Post article, 40 million is more than the entire population of Canada.
These figures are especially intimidating for current students. With close to two-thirds of students using loans to pay for college, it comes as no surprise that those currently in college—some 70%—say they’re worried about money.
In its recently released National Student Financial Wellness Study researchers from Ohio State University also found nearly a third of these students report neglecting their studies at some point because the anxiety is too overwhelming.
The co-authors of the Ohio State study conclude that student borrowers may need more than financial relief. They need help developing better money management skills to ease their stress levels.
We couldn’t agree more.
The first step to dealing with financial fear is to develop a better understanding of what your particular relationship to these large, often-repeated numbers is, especially given your future earnings prospects. The second is to create a realistic spending and repayment plan.
As a non-profit NFCC® member agency, helping borrowers reduce their financial anxiety through education and planning is pretty much our day. From questions about the best options for repaying student debt once you’re out of school, to minimizing its impact as you move through your working years, we work with you to set you up for long-term financial success.
Despite the financial concern and current hardship, the Ohio State study also found evidence of optimism below the anxiety. About 75% of the students expect that in the end, the financial stress they’re experiencing will be worth it. We’re here to help ensure that it is.
Drew Kessler is Vice President of Marketing & Communications with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.