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Student loan debtors want the gift of repayment

As exciting as a new iPhone Xs Max might be, nearly three quarters of student loan debtors would rather receive an equally valued student loan payment of $1,099.

That’s according to a recent survey from LendEDU, which asked Americans in the midst of repaying their student loans whether they’d prefer a variety of gifts or the cash equivalent paid against their loans. Less than a quarter (23 percent) opted for one field-level ticket to Super Bowl LIII over an equivalent student loan payment of $6,405.

Only one thing on the 17-item list—which included everything from a Juul e-cigarette starter kit ($49.99) to a one-week vacation in Iceland for one ($1,436)—broke the 50 percent threshold. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they’d rather receive a $100 bill than $100 paid against their student loans. About half (49 percent) said they’d rather receive a a LG 65-inch 4k Ultra Smart HD TV ($2,596) than an equivalent payment.

LendEDU surveyed 1,000 Americans who have graduated college and were in the midst of repaying their student loan debt at the time of polling in November. Respondents were asked a series of questions that pitted some of the trendiest gifts of 2018 against an equally-valued student loan payment to see which they would prefer to receive during this year’s holiday season.

Given the hefty price tag associated with the student loan debt in America ($1.5 trillion held by 45 million Americans and climbing), LendEDU’s findings aren’t surprising. The average individual student debt is $37,000, and it takes most borrowers nearly two decades to pay their loans off.

Banks have the opportunity to help out their employees with student loans, as BankBeat publisher Tom Bengtson recently argued. MidWestOne Bank of Iowa City, Iowa, for example, started offering employees a benefit that helps them pay down their student debt about one year ago. So far, about 100 of its employees have signed up to receive, on average, $80 per month. A spokesperson for the bank said the benefit already has collectively knocked off 70 years’ worth of debt repayment.

Despite the stereotype of student loans primarily afflicting those in their 20s, the bank reported that the average recipient is 33 years old. People often carry student debt well into their 40s and beyond if they attended college later in life.