Survey finds students far more concerned with the college loans than politics

Survey finds students far more concerned with the college loans than politics



While 82 percent of students surveyed are concerned about loan repayment, 53 percent of students view themselves as either somewhat or extremely politically active.

CHICAGO, IL – July 21, 2016 –, the leading textbook price comparison website, released results from a national survey today that eight in ten college students are concerned about repaying their student loans. The national survey, conducted by Campbell Rinker, revealed that 63 percent of recent graduates carry student loan debt and that two-thirds of students work a full- or part-time job during school.

Students appear far more concerned about loans than they are interested in the current political season, with a bare 54 percent majority expressing greater interest in politics due to the presidential election, and with Hillary Clinton essentially tied with Donald Trump at 12-13 percent supporting either candidate.

“We now know that education loan debt is an ongoing worry for an overwhelming proportion of students,” says Alex Neal, CEO of “ is committed to reducing costs associated with higher education by helping students save on learning materials.”

According to the survey, students are highly cost-conscious when purchasing textbooks. Two out of three (67%) purchase used textbooks and 55 percent rent textbooks each provides numerous options to help students reduce education costs, including a free app for iPhone and Android and a “Buy vs. Rent” tool built into the website that empowers students to find the most cost-effective options for learning materials. The “Buy vs. Rent” tool is the first in the industry to provide students with detailed information that can predict whether they will get more value out of buying or renting their textbooks, including all options available and the future estimated buyback price.

The survey also revealed that using apps is second only to texting as the most prevalent activity on smartphones (owned by 94% of students). makes access to educational savings uniquely easy for students.  Twice as many students own a smartphone compared to a tablet, and three times as many compared to a desktop computer. Not surprisingly, only five percent of students reported using their smartphones to make calls.’s national survey of college students covers a range of attitudes, behaviors and activities including social media use, personal device preferences and learning styles. Following are key highlights from the 2016 CampusBooks.comsurvey:

Student Loan Debt

  • 82 percent of students surveyed are concerned about loan repayment.
  • 63 percent of recent graduates carry student loan debt.
  • 56 percent of students at four-year institutions carry some form of student debt.
  • 66 percent of students work, either full- or part-time, during school.

Political Views and Activity 

  • A majority of 53 percent of students view themselves as either somewhat or extremely ‘politically active,’ while just 29 percent of those students describe themselves as ‘politically outspoken on social media.’
  • The upcoming presidential election makes 54% of students more interested in politics.
  • Students preferred Bernie Sandersby a three to one margin over any other major party candidate, a ratio that surges to 5:1 among Anglo students.
  • 13 percent of students support Donald Trumpfor president.
  • 12 percent of students support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, with the strongest support among graduated seniors (18%).  The majority of all incoming sophomores (54%) support Bernie Sanders.

Textbook Costs and Options

  • The largest proportion of students, 67 percent, buys used textbooks, 55 percent rent, 25 percent buy new and 25 percent download e-books.
  • Nearly 66 percent of students have opted out of buying a textbook due to the cost.
  • The proportion of students who buy new textbooks decreases as their tenure in school increases, and the proportion of students who rent textbooks increases significantly.
  • The mean amount students spend per-semester on textbooks is $488. The mean expenditure drops from $572 during the freshman year to $531 during sophomore year, and from $439 during junior year to $421 while a senior.
  • Students who buy new books are significantly more likely to spend $500+ on books than those who rent, download or purchase used books.
  • Students use creativity to overcome the lack of a textbook, primarily searching content online (63 percent) or sharing textbooks with friends (58 percent).
  • 55 percent of students sell their books back to a campus bookstore after using them. 48 percent of students surveyed keep the books that they purchase, 45 percent sell their used books online and 35 percent sell the books to other students.

Use of Electronic Devices

  • The typical student spends 41 percent of their 168-hour (7 day) week on all their electronic devices combined.
  • 94 percent of students own a smartphone while only 89 percent own a laptop.
  • 36 percent of students say texting is their main smartphone use. Apps account for the second highest use (19 percent) while just 5 percent report using their smartphone primarily for phone calls.
  • E-Reader use is down 22 percent and, although tablet ownership climbed 15 percent, average use of tablets for education purposes decreased31 percent.
  • Students use electronic devices for personal time 2.3 times more than they do for academic purposes.

Social Media and Apps

  • About 33 percent of students say they spend between six and ten hours weekly on social media.
  • SnapchatInstagramPinterestand Tumblr have increased their footprint among college-age account holders by double digits since the 2014 survey.
  • 25 percent of freshmen are LinkedIn members, rising to 45 percent for seniors. Similarly, WhatsApp membership doubles between the freshman and final years of college.


This online study was conducted on behalf of CampusBooks by research firm Campbell Rinker from May 5-10, 2016 among 1067 students enrolled full-time during the Spring 2016 semester at U.S. 4-year colleges and universities.  This sample size delivers a ±3.0 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level.

Photo: College of DuPage 2014 Commencement Ceremony 69 by COD Newsroom used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic


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