I spent my spring break in Myrtle Beach.
You’d think I was down at the Boulevard having a hamburger or on that South Carolina beach with a margarita in hand.
In reality, I was at home with my parents, building shelves with my dad and helping my mom with her college algebra course. Not to mention I worked on multiple college assignments and for Callahan as well.
Like me, spring break functions as another work week for many college students I know. But a 2017 LendEDU study took the week welcomed by stir-crazy students everywhere to drag out the tired millennial stereotype.
According to the study, 30.6% out of 500 surveyed students used their student loan money to fund their spring break vacation.
The first thing that probably comes to mind when reading that statistic is, “Why are those millennials using loan money for expenses unrelated to courses?!”
This is nothing new.
College students use their student loan money for items other than tuition and books all the time. For example, a friend of mine recently took on an unsubsidized loan to supplement her rent and food bills.
But a deeper look at the LendEDU study reveals the shocking premise — that students use loan money to fund spring break — is misleading. The study doesn’t specify how students are spending their money on spring break, offering only the criteria of “hotels, airline ticket, etc.”
The study doesn’t delineate between expenses for luxurious reasons — like a weeklong beach party with college friends — and the same expenses that out-of-state students must incur to go home (and, remember, it’s not uncommon for a college campus to close resident halls during official breaks, meaning on-campus students must leave for the week). Purchasing an airline ticket does not necessarily indicate a millennial is misusing student loan money.
What’s more, the study goes on to break out other frivolous spending of student loans. In all, it portrays millennials as lazy freeloaders who just want to party.
That’s not been my college experience. My millennial life more closely aligns with this 2013 survey by Citi Group and Seventeen magazine, which found 80% of college students were working an average 19 hours a week during the school year. That’s in addition to a full-time course schedule, for many students.
All of this and students from the class of 2016 still graduated with an average student debt load of $37,172, according to the financial website The College Investor.
That debt goes on to play a role in decision-making after graduation. For example, a bankrate.com survey found “45% of Americans with student loans, and 56% of those between 18 and 29, have put off a major life event because of the burden of [student loan] debt.”
In that case, those spring break beach getaways funded by student loans end up costing much more than a hotel or airplane ticket. Hindsight is always 20/20.