- Andrew Burton/Reuters
- A new survey indicates nearly 70% of Americans would prefer loan repayments for their student debt than gifts this holiday season.
- The findings highlight the student debt crisis, which has ballooned to $1.4 trillion.
- Retailers could feel the heat if debtors starting making their true desires known.
For the millions of American families swapping gifts this year, chances are good the younger members want out of the tradition.
According to a new survey from the Student Loan Report, 69.3% of people with student loan debt would prefer to receive loan payments this holiday season instead of gifts.
True to the data on college debt, most of the respondents in the survey – 68% – fell between 18 and 35 years old. The remainder were split between those in their late 30s and 40s.
The findings highlight the rapidly growing crisis of student debt. In the US alone, there are more than 44 million student debtors collectively carrying around $1.4 trillion in debt. The average amount of debt for a graduate in 2016 was $37,172, according to the personal financial site Make Lemonade.
In its latest survey, the Student Loan Report asked 1,000 student loan borrowers currently in repayment the same question: “If you had the choice this year, would you rather receive a gift this holiday season (ex. Christmas gift, Hanukkah gift, Kwanzaa gift) or an equally valued payment towards your student loans?”
Only 30.7% of people opted for the gifts.
In a separate survey, the Student Loan Report asked debtors what they’d do if they received money as a gift this holiday season. Roughly 58% of respondents said they’d put it toward their student loans.
Aside from the plight of millennials and GenXers, the results indicate that retailers might not carry as much sway over American consumers as they once did. Any money that goes toward repaying loans are funds that don’t go into the pockets of Walmart or Target.
The Student Loan Report survey doesn’t indicate that people are asking for loan repayments instead of gifts, merely that they’d prefer one over the other. But for concerned gift-givers, the findings may serve as a wake-up call that the “perfect” gift isn’t one to unwrap.