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ACADEMICS AND RESEARCH

IU researchers link loan debt to student habits




A new IU study has found that college students without loan debt are more likely to party and less likely to study.

Daniel Rudel and Natasha Yurk, graduate students in the Department of Sociology, conducted the study, which they said is one of the first to examine the effect of student loan debt on the college experience. 

According to the study, students will fall into one of three categories: “play hard,” “disengaged students” and “serious students.”

Students without loan debt spent more time in extracurricular activies and at parties, but less time studying for classes. Some students with debt, “disengaged students,” saw loan debt as a liability, and tended to spend relatively little time on campus activities, including studying.

Meanwhile, “serious students” tended to be more studious and involved in activities than both other categories, since they viewed debt as a challenge and responsibility. These students did not party much.

Rudel and Yurk examined data from a national survey of freshmen through the Office of Population Research at Princeton University. Students interviewed from 1999 to 2003 attended one of 28 U.S. universities.

The two researchers presented the study at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association on Aug. 10 in New York.

Rudel said these patterns could affect the social connections students develop
in college.

“We aren’t saying what college students should or should not be doing,” Rudel said. “But the lifestyles of students with debt diverge from the script people have of what college should be like.”

— Samantha Schmidt

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