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ERIC Number: EJ1140908
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1936-3478
Student Loan Debt: How Are the Funds Spent?
Wilbert, Janet M.; Haddad, Mahmoud
Journal of Academic Administration in Higher Education, v10 n1 p47-53 Spr 2014
The purpose for this research is to investigate the spending patterns of undergraduate and graduate students in a Tennessee, four-year, public institution. The cost of attending a college or university is often cited as the source for student loan debt spiraling out of control. Not to marginalize the impact that increasing tuition, fees, and books have on student loans; but there appears to be another, less scrutinized contributor to student loans and that is student personal spending. Shaffer (2012) argues that student loan funds that remain after tuition, books, room and board create a paradox termed "premature affluence". Money that now has no educational target or purpose is often spent on luxuries such as manicures, pedicures, and expensive vacations during breaks from school. Shaffer concluded that the lifestyle that students have while in high school becomes the expected norm in post-secondary studies without the realization that the lifestyle is piggy-backed on student loans that will have to be paid back in the future with compounded interest cost. Robert Bonfiglio (2009) concluded that students are not prepared for the financial responsibilities that graduation presents. In an impromptu blog by the financial guru Dave Ramsey (2012) his fans reported spending their loan money on TVs, a party lifestyle, a Corvette and these are only a few. The "poor" college student paradigm appears to be slipping away. For this study a Constituency Resource Management (CRM) system was used to distribute an email invitation to participate in a survey on student loans. The email was sent to all enrolled students (n = + 7700) requesting their participation in the survey. Data was collected utilizing an online survey tool, and data from 962 students was collected. Specific questions were asked about spending patterns practiced by the students. Students reported that 65.9% (n = 613) have a smart phone, 4.8% (n = 45) get pedicures/manicures or acrylic nails, 5.9% (n = 55) go to a tanning salon, 7.1% (n = 66) have their hair colored/highlighted regularly, 26.0% (n = 242) make a car payment, 33.1% (n = 308) wear brand name shoes, 27.3% (n = 254) wear designer clothes and 10.5% (n = 98) reported that they go to a vacation spot for fall/spring break. The follow-up question asked the students if they use any of their student loan money to pay for the items just listed. Astoundingly, 23.1% (n = 215) reported that they do use loan money to pay for these items. (Survey is available upon request.) Given the outcomes of this preliminary research, more search needs will be conducted on additional student populations to determine if similar patterns exist in other public institutions within the state and across the nation. Given future results, the implication could lead to important student loan reform and policy implications.
JW Press. P.O. Box 49, Martin, TN 38237. Tel: 731-587-4010; Fax: 731-588-0701; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A