Economic Woes Taking Social, Physical Toll on Arizona Students

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We've all heard horror stories chronicling the personal financial stress that comes with a prolonged economic downturn. Now, University of Arizona researchers found that the economic downturn has even impacted students' social and physical well-being, the Daily Wildcat reports.

The study, conducted by the University of Arizona School of Family and Consumer Sciences, surveyed more than 2,000 freshmen during the 2008 spring semester. The researchers reconnected with 748 of the originally surveyed students—then sophomores—this spring. The students showed a 60 percent increase in credit card debt and an 86 percent increase in student loans between their first and second years, the report says.

"Their relationships with their friends dramatically decreased, and based on their comments, a lot of them don't have time to socialize," the project's manager Joyce Serido tells the Daily Wildcat. "They don't have the money to socialize."

Financial stress can cut into money for basic living expenses, the report says, and that has an impact on academic performance.

"They have to curtail their purchasing of books," Marian Binder, director of counseling and psychological services, tells the Daily Wildcat . "They have to curtail their purchasing of food. And in those ways for students who are impacted at that level, it can certainly have an impact on their academic performance—both in terms of not being as well rested or having as good nutrition as they should for optimal focus and also in terms of not having all the materials they might best have to be prepared for school.

"If you can't afford to buy all your textbooks, it's obviously going to impact your preparedness for school."

[Get tips on Paying for College during tough economic times.]

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