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Posted: February 23, 2016

Survey reports things graduates would do to avoid paying student loans

Air Force Academy graduates throw their caps into the air as F-16 jets from the Thunderbirds make a flyover, at the completion of the graduation ceremony for the class of 2015, at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Brennan Linsley
Air Force Academy graduates throw their caps into the air as F-16 jets from the Thunderbirds make a flyover, at the completion of the graduation ceremony for the class of 2015, at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

By Christine DiGangi

If you want to get out of having to pay your student loan debt, you have very few options. Sure, there are student loan forgiveness programs and maybe you could get your employer to help you repay the debt, but for the most part, you’re stuck with those loans until you make the very last payment.

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For many people, starting adulthood tens of thousands of dollars in debt creates this sense of being trapped. As a result, people would do some pretty outlandish things to escape it -- or, at least, they say they would.

LendEDU, an online student loan marketplace, asked student loan borrowers what they’d be willing to do in order to eliminate their debts. The poll isn’t scientific or statistically representative of U.S. student loan borrowers -- the figures come from an online survey of 513 borrowers who have graduated -- but it’s entertaining.

The most common thing student loan borrowers would do in exchange for debt relief? Stay off social media for life. Nearly 58 percent of respondents were willing to do that.

Going without coffee for life came in at a close second.

Respondents had an average of $31,762 in outstanding student loans at the time of the survey, and 57.11 percent said they’d lay off the java for eternity if doing so would eliminate their debts. (It’s interesting to consider that 43 percent of people said they’d rather be in serious debt than take a sip of it again.

Almost as many people -- 56.73 percent -- were willing to trade their debt for a punch from Mike Tyson. People preferred that to giving up alcohol and drugs for life (56.14 percent).

Some less common but no-less-intriguing responses included the following: taking a year off their life expectancy (40.35 percent), giving up texting forever (35.67 percent), naming their first-born daughter Sallie Mae (28.07 percent) and wearing the same outfit every day for the rest of their life (20.47 percent). Things got more extreme from there, with 6.47 percent saying they’d cut off their pinky finger if it meant having no more student loan debt.

It’s unlikely that cutting off a finger would be less painful than repaying student loan debt. Then again, Americans have $1.3 trillion in outstanding education debt. Millions have fallen behind on those loans and face consequences like wage garnishment or losing out on Social Security benefits.

Unpaid student loans can severely damage your credit, which has a huge bearing on several common needs like housing, auto loans and insurance. If you’re having trouble paying your student loans, the first thing to do is reach out to your student loan servicer to find out what options you have for getting back on track, so you can eventually find your way out of debt and fix your credit. You can see how your student loans affect your credit scores by getting two free scores every 30 days on Credit.com.

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