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America’s college students are not squandering their student loan money on spring break

Market Watch

But what we know about today’s college students doesn’t support the notion that such a large share of students would be using their loan money for spring break would be using their loan money for spring break, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. [...]

The idea that students are spending loan money during spring break “is based on a totally outdated assumption of who American college students are,” Huelsman said. “The college student of yesteryear had more financial flexibility because they didn’t have to borrow to pay for college and they didn’t have to pay sky high expenses.”

Even if students were angling to use their student loan dollars for a big trip, it would probably be hard for them to find enough to do so, Huelsman notes. Typical undergraduate students can borrow a maximum of $31,000 over five years from the federal government. The average cost of attending a public school in-state for four years, including room and board, was $80,360 during the 2016-2017 academic year, the College Board found.

Theoretically, students could get access to more loan money by either having their parents borrow or taking on a private loan, but both would require the help of a parent (private student loans almost always require a cosigner). It’s possible that students with debt are still traveling while in college, but Huelsman cautions against making assumptions about how that trip is being financed.

“If a student is going on vacation while they’re in college, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re using their loan dollars to do it, maybe they’re working,” he said.