The Shocking Way 1 in 3 Spring Breakers Pays for a Week of Beach and Booze

spring break
Revelers take part in spring break activities in Panama City Beach Fla. Michael Spooneybarger/ AP Images for Ubisoft

Beaches, beer and bikinis. Stiff drinks, loud music and free-spirited members of the opposite sex. A sunny island getaway, far far away from mind-wracking midterms held in stodgy college classrooms.

That’s what spring break is all about.

But all that partying costs money. LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans and loan refinancing, has a burning question: “How are all these cash-strapped college students footing the bill for a one-week destination getaway?”

Determined to get to the bottom of this, it polled 500 college students who are going on spring break excursions this year and who also have outstanding student loan debt.

Tsk-tsking and wagging its finger judgmentally, LendEDU calls the results of its survey “alarming and frustrating.” Turns out that 30.6% of indebted college students say they’re using money from student loans to help pay for their spring break trip.  

Really drilling down here, LendEDU gritted its teeth and scratched out some back-of-the-envelope math:

  • 20.5 million students currently attend college in the U.S, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • That means roughly 11.3 million students are going on spring break.
  • An estimated 69% of all current college students will graduate with student loan debt.
  • So roughly 7.8 million student debtors are going on spring break.


  • Bottom line: A whopping 2.38 million students are about to tap into their student loans to pay for spring break.

Well, well! My goodness! What would the student loan fairy think about this? What would the church lady think?

In all seriousness, LendEDU finds this disappointing because of the severity of the student loan crisis in the U.S. In a previous study, LendEDU found that nearly half of college students incorrectly believed the government would forgive their loans. Another study found that more than half of parents who co-signed for a child’s student loan said their child’s late payments had jeopardized their retirement.

One. Trillion. Dollars.

Hey, we get it. Everybody’s gotta live a little. And in addition to tuition, books, a dorm room and lab fees, you are allowed to use student loan money for living expenses.

But burning a big chunk of your student loan on a Cancun getaway isn’t the wisest idea.

Student loan debt really is a serious problem. Americans owe $1 trillion in student loans. Here’s how to start paying off yours.

On a side note, LendEDU’s survey found that students are using their loan money for all kinds of unnecessary extras:

  • Nearly a quarter (23.8%) spent student loan money on alcohol.
  • A third (33.4%) used it for clothes.
  • 6.6% used it to pay for drugs.
  • 5.6% used it on gambling or sports betting.

Drugs and gambling instead of tuition? Naughty, naughty.

Please Tip Your Spring Breakers

Don’t let this be you.

If you’re a cash-strapped college student hell-bent on going on spring break, we have some tips for you.

Your Turn: Have you ever used student loan money to go on spring break?

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. His memories of spring break are a little blurry.

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