The numbers speak for themselves:

  • There is $1.41 trillion in student loan debt held by 44 million Americans.
  • Two-thirds of college students graduate with student debt.
  • About 21 percent of households have student loan debt.
  • The average amount of debt held is $30,100.
  • In 2016, 1 million loans defaulted.

These facts might make anyone hesitate to take out loans to fund their post-secondary education, but research shows that certain groups of people are more averse than others when it comes to taking out student loans. And it turns out those who are averse would benefit the most from a college degree.

According to a study led by Angela Boatman and Brent Evans, financial literacy had a great influence on whether a student decided to take out student loans. Participants in the study who had higher financial literacy and knowledge of federal student loans were up to 50 percent less likely to experience aversion. Alternately, lower financial literacy and experience with payday lending (short term lending used primarily by low-income workers) resulted in higher aversion to student loan borrowing.

Despite the results of the study, a college degree would be beneficial for those most averse to borrowing money for education. “On average, the individual returns to college enrollment and completion are large, with gains in income of around 10 percent for each year of postsecondary education,” Boatman said. If those averse to borrowing knew how much they could benefit, they may just take the risk and trust the returns will exceed the costs of paying of the debt.

It seems that those who are averse could use some more information, but they’re not getting it. While trying to figure out why, my research yielded results about academics and not finances. When people write articles about how high schools are preparing, or failing to prepare, students for college, they only talk about academics.

When there is advice about talking to high school students about how to pay for college, it falls on the parents, who may themselves be averse to taking out higher education loans because of the reasons above. It’s a cycle that may need outside intervention to break.