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Student Loans Reports

The Trendiest Holiday Gift of 2018 Might Just Be a Student Loan Payment

With Thanksgiving in the rear-view, the full attention of nearly every consumer has shifted to the fast-approaching holiday season. 

Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, an integral component of celebrating during the holiday season is to spread cheer, joy, and appreciation. And, what is the best way to encourage cheerfulness and display appreciation? 


Everyone loves receiving presents during this time of year, but determining the perfect gift for each unique person can be quite the challenge. You want it to be trendy and useful, and you want to be there to watch the gift-getter’s face illuminate when he or she unwraps the gift to find out what’s inside. 

This sounds like a difficult task, but LendEDU might just have the perfect solution. With student loan repayment taking a firm grasp of the bank accounts of many Americans, especially younger ones, LendEDU wanted to uncover how the gift of a student loan payment would be received. 

To do this, we surveyed 1,000 Americans that have graduated college and were in the midst of repaying their student loan debt at the time of polling. We asked them a series of questions that pitted some of the trendiest gifts of 2018 against an equally-valued student loan payment to see which they would prefer to receive during this year’s holiday season. 

While not the sexiest of gifts, one might be surprised to see how often consumers opted for the student loan payment this holiday season instead of the new iPhone or an Amazon Prime membership.

The Full Results

1,000 Americans currently repaying student loan debt were proposed 17 scenarios where they could either receive one of the trendiest holiday gifts of 2018 or an equally-valued student loan payment…

  • 37% would rather receive $1,000 worth of Bitcoin ($1,000)
  • 12% would rather receive a JUUL e-cigarette starter pack ($49.99)
  • 64% would rather receive a $100 bill
  • 36% would rather receive a fully paid Netflix membership for 2019 ($167.88)
  • 41% would rather receive a fully paid Amazon Prime membership for 2019 ($119)
  • 23% would rather receive the puppy of their dreams ($1,000)
  • 29% would rather receive the new iPhone Xs Max ($1,099)
  • 23% would rather receive one field-level ticket to Super Bowl LIII ($6,405) 
  • 37% would rather receive a $50 Starbucks Gift Card
  • 22% would rather receive an electric scooter ($599)
  • 30% would rather receive an Xbox One with Red Dead Redemption 2 ($359.99)
  • 17% would rather receive one ticket to Hamilton on Broadway ($800)
    39% would rather receive a one-week vacation for one in Iceland ($1,436)
  • 25% would rather receive an ounce of marijuana ($300)
  • 18% would rather receive one ticket to a Drake concert ($90)
  • 47% would rather receive a LG 65-inch 4k Ultra Smart HD TV ($2,596)
  • 8% would rather receive a Tinder Gold membership ($180)

Observations & Analysis

If the results of this survey did one thing for certain it was emphasizing the burden that so many Americans face when it comes to trying to pay off student loans.

In every single hypothetical scenario with the exception of one, ​respondents opted to receive the gift of an equally-valued student loan payment rather than the awesome present such as a ticket to Hamilton on Broadway…what a musical!

Even gifts that were less in monetary value, such as a JUUL starter pack ($49.99) or a $50 Starbucks Gift Card, played second fiddle to the student loan payment of similar worth; only 12 percent opted for the former, while 37 percent preferred the latter when both were pitted against a student loan payment. The results of these two questions in particular go to show how insurmountable one’s student loan debt balance can appear, so much so that borrowers want to seize every chance they get to chip away at it even if that means sacrificing personal satisfaction. 

On the opposite end, even expensive hypothetical holiday presents that can provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for free were declined in favor of the all-powerful student loan payment of equal value. For example, only 23 percent of survey-participants wanted the puppy of their dreams priced at $1,000. Further, only 39 percent of borrowers wanted to get away to Iceland for a week at no cost, while only 23 percent of consumers would pass on the hefty student loan payment of $6,405 to sit field-level at this year’s Super Bowl.

Similar to last year’s study and quite interestingly, only the $100 bill had more student loan borrowers clamoring for it instead of an equally-valued student loan payment. Why that could be? Maybe that Benjamin Franklin is going to the borrower’s student loan debt anyway! After all, it is much easier to tack a $100 bill towards one’s student loan debt than it is to receive a free iPhone, resell it, and then put that money towards paying off student loans. 

One product that nearly gave the equally-valued student loan payment a run for its money was the LG 65-inch 4k Ultra Smart HD TV, which is priced around $2,596. 47 percent of survey participants opted to go for the new-age television, even if it meant passing up on a considerable student loan payment. People love their televisions in 2018, almost as much as a massive lump-sum student loan payment. 

Ultimately, the results of this poll are promising​ to a degree because it shows that we may have a generation of young, responsible Americans that are dead-set on repaying their student loan debt. They are willing to sacrifice material worth for something that, while less stimulating, is more impactful on both their future and the health of their country’s economy.

That being said, there is undoubtedly a tinge of pity because the holidays are meant to be worry-free and enjoyed. Debt should not be suffocating a young consumer so much that they must forego life’s simple pleasures.


All of the data found within this report derives from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish. In total, 1,000 adult Americans that have student loan debt they are currently repaying were surveyed on all 17 questions. Respondents were found via screening question to ensure they were student loan borrowers in the midst of repayment. This poll was conducted over a five-day span, starting on November 12th, 2018 and ending on November 16th, 2018. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their ability. 

See more of LendEDU’s Research