Student Debt and Perceptions of Preparedness for Employment or Higher Education

Authors:  Arun John, Anne Moyer

Student debt is receiving attention as a significant stressor for college undergraduates. This, coupled with concerns about the future, has the potential to negatively impact students’ well-being. Using data from a national student survey, this study examined the extent to which financial burdens and feelings of preparedness for their path following graduation predicted the functioning of college seniors. Higher debt and lower perceptions of preparedness for employment or higher education significantly predicted lower levels of emotional and physical health in students with loans of $0 - $200,000. These results support the notion that, in these uncertain economic times, greater emphasis could be placed on student career planning and guidance, not only for the purposes of future professional development, but to promote well-being while students are still in college.