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Title:You don't know how it feels to be me: an exploration of those who belong to online groups and communities dedicated to student loan debt information dissemination and reform
Author(s):Collier, Daniel Anthony
Director of Research:McMahon, Walter
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Herman, Richard
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Alexander, Kern; Hartlep, Nicholas
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Higher Education Policy, Student Loan Debt, Finances, Health, Politics
Abstract:Student loan debt has become a topic of great economic and social concern. With this debt surpassing $1.2 trillion dollars – a staggering amount by any measure – the anxiety and alarm surrounding this issue cannot be overstated. This research aims to help the general public,scholars, and policymakers more fully understand how this debt affects various financial, social,and political behaviors and beliefs. This sample (n = 293) was collected from individuals who are involved with various online communities that act as a social support system and political activity center for student loan debtors. This sample is unique as at the time of writing this manuscript the researcher is unaware of anyone conducting research on these communities. Findings of this research suggest that there are various differences between those who own $40,000 or less in debt and those who are above $40,000 in debt. This research has uncovered educational attainment differences with those who have less debt having generally earned only a bachelor’s degree whereas those who are more indebted holding master's degrees. Financially, statistical differences are found between yearly gross earnings, monthly savings, percent of monthly income to repay student loan debt, percent of max credit card debt, and FICO score category. Additionally found were differences in reporting to ignore health concerns, in stress levels, and in political behaviors and beliefs. Deeper exploration of these differences suggest that for each group different variables have influenced borrowing, monthly savings, ignoring health, stress levels, and political beliefs and behaviors. Discussion focuses on connections to previous research and explores some of the more unique findings, such as for the more indebted group enrollment in income-based repayment promotes ignoring health concerns. Recommendations and implications focus on the wider contributions to the field and future research suggestions.
Issue Date:2016-07-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Daniel Collier
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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