LONDON, England – A new study shows roughly a third of university students in the United Kingdom are blowing their student loans on shopping sprees, binge drinking, strip clubs, tattoos, trips abroad, cosmetic surgery and other unnecessary expenses.
The Student Room, the country’s “biggest and most popular education website,” recently questioned more than 1,500 university students about how they spend their student loans and found many are taking on debt to finance non-essentials they’ll likely be paying off for decades, the Telegraph reports.
About 30 percent of students who participated admitted to using their student loan funds for shopping sprees, and roughly a quarter spent the money on drinking and clubbing. Sixteen percent of students told The Student Room they blew through all of their funds within a month, including some who wasted their money on gambling, strip clubs, and tattoos.
“While it’s understandable that many students will experience some overspending, it’s clear that many need more guidance and support when it comes to balancing the books and staying in the clear financially,” Hannah Morrish, The Student Room community manager who conducted the survey, told the news site.
“University is an expensive experience and students blowing their loans on expensive, non-essential items are more likely to get saddled with long term debt.”
The survey found that most students want to learn how to budget their money, but 29 percent said they’d received no guidance on how to do that, either from their parents or school officials.
Fifty-four percent had no idea how much debt they had racked up, a reality The Student Room is working to change, the Telegraph reports.
“For any students who are struggling to manage their bank balance and spending habits, there are several free advice services available, including the money and finance forum on The Student Room website,” Morrish said.
The UK findings mirror a similar trend in the U.S.
The 2016 College Students and Personal Finance Survey conducted by LendEDU last summer asked 455 undergraduate students at three East Coast schools “What is your biggest monthly expense?” and 25 percent responded with drugs and alcohol.
Thirty-eight percent of students said food was their biggest expense, while 28 percent spent their biggest chunk on rent and 8 percent spent the most on clothes. And like the results in the UK, the US survey showed students were woefully ignorant on how to manage finance.
The LendEDU poll, posted to its website in May, followed a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that showed Americans added $29 billion of student loan debt during the preceding quarter, bringing the country’s total student loan debt at the time to $1.26 trillion.
“In comparison, Americans added $120 billion in mortgage debt and $7 billion in auto debt,” The Detroit Free Press reports. “Americans continue to owe more money on student loans than any other type of debt besides home mortgages.”