People would do some crazy things to get out of debt.
According to a survey from Student Loan Report, 26.8% of student-loan borrowers would willingly contract the Zika virus in order to get out of debt. Fifty percent of borrowers said that they would jump into a gorilla cage to shed the debt, and 58.4% said that they would wear Crocs every day for the next 10 years.
While the report surveyed only 500 borrowers, the wild claims got us thinking whether or not some of these crazy trade-offs were worth it.
So we’ve picked one of the claims – 57.8% of borrowers said that they would talk to a Comcast customer-support representative for one hour every day for five years – to answer one basic question.
Is it worth it?
Note: This is all a theoretical exercise using back-of-the-envelope calculations, so let’s not take it all too seriously.
In order to conduct this analysis, we supposed that the debt load of a theoretical student was $35,000, roughly the same as the average student-debt burden for the class of 2015. Note: This is a back of the envelope calculation that doesn’t account for taxes.
To judge the hourly income, we took the average income of a household with a head between 25 and 34, $53,274, and broke it into hourly earnings: $25.61 per hour. Oddly enough, this was nearly the same as our other considered measure, average hourly earnings for American workers, which stands at $25.59 an hour.
Assuming that a worker dedicates 10% of their earnings to debt service, so $2.56 of each hour’s wages, it would take 6.57 years to pay back student loans. If you were to jump up to 15% of wages – which, admittedly, is a lot – or $3.84 of each hour’s wages, then it would take 4.38 years to pay off the average loan.
So, yes, if you pay the basic amount or less toward your debt, then it would make sense to get on the horn with a Comcast representative and endure the experience every day for five years. If you make a little more or can dedicate a bit more of your income to debt service, then it may not make sense.
Put another way, if you gave up one hour of work per day to talk to the customer-service rep, then the average worker would miss out on only $26,624 of wages over five years – less than the average $35,000 debt load.
Additionally, these calculations do not take into account interest payments, which would make it even more advantageous to take the Comcast deal.
So, yes, incredibly average college grad, if someone offers to pay off your student debt only if you suffer through mindless offers for upgraded Wi-Fi service one day a year for a half decade, then do it.