Nearly 40% of graduates would be willing to spend a week in jail to erase their student loan debt

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Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Splash Financial found the most common sacrifices made by people with student loans. (Photo by Denis Oliveira on Unsplash)

Four in five graduates with student loans think of their debt as a life sentence, according to new research.

A study of 1,000 undergraduate and 1,000 postgraduate degree holders revealed that — of those with student loans — 89 percent see their debt as a financial burden.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Splash Financial, the survey found the most common sacrifices made by people with student loans.

Thirty-nine percent have skipped a social event in order to save cash, while another 39 percent have started a side hustle to make a little extra dough.

Other common sacrifices included serious budgeting (38 percent) or taking a job they didn’t like that paid well (36 percent).

That’s not all ‒ 36 percent have passed on attending a loved ones’ life event, like a wedding or a birth, because they couldn’t afford the travel costs on top of their student loan debt.

All of those lifestyle changes have a major impact on respondents’ attitudes towards their student loans: Eighty-two percent say their debt is affecting major life decisions.

Of graduates with student loans, 43 percent called buying a house a financial impossibility.

Other big steps that those with debt felt were not in the cards were saving for retirement (43 percent), moving to a new city (42 percent), getting a new place to live or even taking a vacation (both 39 percent).

“These survey findings support the fact that the burden of student loans negatively impacts a person’s financial well-being and it often seems inescapable,” said Splash Financial CEO Steve Muszynski. “From grocery shopping to relationship building, it is shaping everyday life. If we’re not careful, it could have massive cultural implications.”

Respondents were willing to take drastic steps if it meant they could erase their student loan balance from the books.

Half (51 percent) admitted they’d shave their head, while 49 percent said they’d walk to work for an entire month if it meant freedom from the burden of student loans.

People were even willing to wind back the clock and relive high school, while others said they would give up caffeine for good or take no time off from work for a year (all 40 percent) — all in order to go without student debt.

With reactions like that, people obviously have strong emotions about the debt they face. “Frustrated” and “worried” (both 47 percent) came out on top of a list of feelings respondents related to their student loans.

“Overwhelmed” (41 percent) and “annoyed” (40 percent) followed closely behind in second and third place, respectively.

“You can gain more control over your student loan debt. One simple way is to refinance,” Muszynski added. “You can potentially save a lot of money by refinancing your student loans into one loan with a low rate. At Splash Financial, our mission is to help people with student loans reach financial freedom.”


  1. Skipped a social event/gathering 39%
  2. Getting a side hustle 39%
  3. Serious budgeting 38%
  4. Taking a job I don’t like that pays well 36%
  5. Skipping others’ life events due to travel cost 36%
  6. Skipped a meal 35%
  7. Not getting a car 35%
  8. Living in a less safe neighborhood for cheaper rent 35%
  9. Not buying new clothes 32%
  10. Living with my parents 29%
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GIF courtesy of @ethanbarnowsky


  1. Buying a house 43%
  2. Saving for retirement 43%
  3. Moving to a new city 42%
  4. Getting a new place to live 39%
  5. Taking a vacation 39%
  6. Buying life insurance 36%
  7. Marriage 35%
  8. Children 35%
  9. Moving out of parents’ house 29%
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  1. Shave my head 51%
  2. Walk to work for a month 49%
  3. Never have caffeine again 40%
  4. Relive high school over again 40%
  5. No time off from work for a year 40%
  6. Week in jail 39%
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  1. Worried/frustrated 47%
  2. Overwhelmed 41%
  3. Annoyed 40%
  4. Confident 39%
  5. Indifferent 8%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.

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