Published in: Student Loans | Nov. 15, 2019

Report: Student Loans Stress Us Out More Than Any Other Debt

We are committed to full transparency as part of our mission to make the world smarter, happier, & richer. You should know that offers on The Ascent may be from our partners - it's how we make money. That transparency to you is core to our editorial integrity, which isn’t influenced by compensation.

It's stressful to be in debt -- but student loan debt is the most likely to stress us out. 

Being in debt is stressful. After all, owing money to creditors means you need enough income to pay the bills. It also means your earnings aren't your own -- and the money allocated to debt repayment could leave you short of the cash you need for other things.

And although debt in general can raise your stress levels, not all types of debt are created equal. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult revealed that one particular type of debt stresses borrowers out more than any other, and that is student loan debt

A stressed young woman sitting at her desk in front of a laptop with her face in her hands.

Image source: Getty Images

Student loan debt causes more stress than any other debt

According to Morning Consult's recent poll, 64% of adults feel some or a lot of stress about undergraduate student loan debt, compared with 60% who feel some or a lot of stress about credit card debt; 42% who worry about mortgage debt; and 42% who feel at least some stress about car loans. 

Student loan debt is not only more likely to worry adults, but it's also more likely to be the cause of major concern. In fact, 45% of adults reported feeling a lot of stress about undergraduate student loans, compared with 30% who feel a lot of concern about credit cards, 18% who worry about mortgage loans a lot, and 21% who feel a lot of stress about car loans. 

What to do if you're stressed about your student loans?

Being stressed about student loans is natural. After all, The Ascent's research showed that 44.7 million student loan borrowers collectively owe around $1.59 trillion in debt, and as many as 5.2 million of those are actually in default on their federal student loans.  

Furthermore, 20% of borrowers are behind on their payments. Student loan balances are also high for most borrowers -- the average debt for graduates who had borrowed reached $28,650 in 2017. 

And although there’s an inherent financial strain in owing a lot of money, this doesn't mean it's healthy to live with a lot of stress about your debt. In fact, if you are one of the 64% of adults who stresses about educational loans, you should consider looking into ways to alleviate your concerns. 

The right course of action will vary depending on what you're most stressed about. If you worry you can't make monthly payments, for example, it's a good idea to look into an income-contingent repayment plan. Available for federal student loans, this type of plan caps your payments at a percentage of your income. 

But if you're worried about how lingering debt will affect your lifestyle, you may instead want to make a plan to become debt-free ASAP by making large extra payments toward your student loan debt.

The important thing is to identify why your loans are stressing you out and then explore options -- such as changing your payment plan or refinancing your loans -- so you can minimize your worries. 

You don't have to just live with stress when you have student loan debt

If you are worried about what you owe on your student loans, the statistics make it clear that you're not alone. The good news is that there are options out there that you can explore. Taking action to manage your situation will hopefully leave you less concerned about your outstanding educational debt. By being proactive about addressing your worries, you can hopefully find a solution that is right for you.

Save thousands on student loan interest

Many people are missing out on lower student loan interest rates because they don't take the time to research their refinancing options. Our picks of the best student loan providers can help you save thousands of dollars in interest over time. Click here to uncover the best-in-class student loans providers we could find in 2019.