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College student loans cited for downturn in freshman mental health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
College students

College freshman report poor mental health, citing college student loans as one major cause of stress.

In a UCLA survey, college freshman reported concerns about how to pay for college. The current economic landscape and need to obtain loans to pay for college are cited as responsible for the overall mental decline found by investigators in the study.

In the study, researchers found unemployment of student's parents impacts the mental health of freshman entering college. The finding showed 4.9 percent of the students were concerned about their father's unemployment. The investigators say the percentage of unemployment reflects an all time high.

Mother's unemployment rates were reported at 8.6 percent. "The increasing cost of higher education poses a significant barrier to college access for today's students," said Sylvia Hurtado, co-author of the report and director of the Higher Education Research Institute. "Students and families are now charged with the task of becoming more resourceful and strategic in finding new and creative ways to pay for college."

The report that is part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), is conducted nationally by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and the findings show the mental health of college freshman sharply declined to a record low in 2010 - in part from concerns over college loans and parents' unemployment.

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The survey included 201,818 full-time students entering college for the first time among 279 baccalaureate colleges and universities nationwide.

The findings are significant and can affect college performance say the researchers who note, "If students are arriving in college already overwhelmed and with lower reserves of emotional health, faculty, deans and administrators should expect to see more consequences of stress, such as higher levels of poor judgment around time management, alcohol consumption and academic motivation."

he survey also revealed college students are concerned about the political climate that ties in with other concerns about the economy - one-third felt the government should raise taxes to reduce the deficit, with 60.4 percent agreeing the wealthy should pay more.

On a good note, the value of a college education and resultant earning power was readily identified by students - 72 percent said they recognize "the chief benefit of college is that it increases one's earning power", aligning with policymakers' views on stimulating the economy.

Concerns over the economy and how to pay back student college loans was one of the major stressors found to impact the mental health of the students, found in the survey that is at an all time low.



I'm so tired of these kids today who say they are stressed. There was a generation that did exactly as this kid did with full loads, jobs and practicums. Seems like we have developed a non-resilient group of kids for the future.