Many students are utterly clueless about how much student loan debt they have, a new Iowa State University study suggests. The study, conducted by ISU faculty on ISU students, found that 40% underestimated how in debt they were, and 1 in 8 didn't even realize they had loans at all, the Des Moines Register reports. "You're talking about people who, for them, borrowing is new," says a professor of human development. "Yet these are really critical decisions."
About 10% of students underestimated their debt by more than $10,000. The study is one of the few to compare students' knowledge to their personal debt. "There's a general lack of financial literacy on campus," lamented ISU's student body president. But ISU is in the midst of a three-year program intended to change that; it's even considering adopting the University of Northern Iowa's policy of requiring students to meet a counselor before taking out a loan. (Read more student loans stories.)