Tag Archives: analysis

Pet Owners Spend Big on Healthcare

What would you do to save your dog or cat? If your beloved family pet was sick or injured, what would you be willing to pay for proper treatment? In a recent survey, 70% of pet owners indicated that they would be willing to “pay anything” for their pet’s health.

More than $55.7 billion was spent on pet products in the U.S. during 2013, and it’s estimated more than $58.5 billion will be spent in 2014. U.S. pet owners spent $27 billion on animal medication and visits to the vet in 2013.

Like their owners, pets often require medicine to regain their health after becoming sick or injured. A recent study by qSample found that less than 10 percent of pet owners shop online for their pet’s pharmaceutical needs. 70 percent fill prescriptions right at the veterinary clinic, but this can be expensive.

On average, dogs typically cost their owners about $8,000 over their lifetimes, while cats cost their owners around $10,000. However if your dog or cat needs immediate emergency care it’s easy to rack up a bill of $2-3K in a single visit. A visit to an emergency vet clinic can cost anywhere from $100-$400, and that’s before any tests or procedures. Emergency surgeries can cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000, depending on the severity of the injury, but even after a surgery is over, the bills can still pile up.

Vet Healthcare Costs

According to a recent survey by Kroger Co., 61 percent of pet owners say they’d spend between $100 and $1,000 for life saving medical treatment. Another 15 percent would be willing to pay between $1,000 and $3,000 for treatment. Ten percent of owners said they would be willing to pay $3,000 or more for medical care if their pet required it.

No matter where owners find treatment, it isn’t cheap. The best way to prepare for unexpected vet costs is with animal healthcare insurance. qSample found that 97 percent of pet owners surveyed had insurance, and 60% use VPI. Pets Best and Petplan were the next most popular choices, but only 8 percent chose each. Animal healthcare can be expensive, but most pet owners are willing to spend big for the ones they love.

qSample offers many great panels for data collection and analysis. In addition to large segments of general consumers, qSample cultivates high-quality specialty panels. Those panels include:
Mobile Users, Gamers, Voters, Contractors, Home Owners, Students, Baby Boomers, Veterinarians, and Pet Owners.

You can find more information by clicking on the panels tab above, or contact qSample here

How to Prevent Data Theft: Nearly Half of Adult Americans have Already been Hacked this Year

Nearly half of all adult Americans have already been hacked this year. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center and a review of corporate disclosures by CNN Money, 47 percent of adult Americans have already had their personal information exposed by hackers in 2014, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Over the weekend, AT&T confirmed that personal information, including Social Security numbers and call records, of an unknown number of users was improperly accessed between April 9 and April 20 as part of a recent security breach.

This is only the most recent in the growing epidemic of data-theft. Last December, Target captured headlines around the world when customer debit and credit card information was stolen on a massive scale. It wasn’t the information of a few thousand customers that was compromised, nor was it a few hundred thousand. It was 40 million.

Target isn’t the only company in hot water after being successfully hacked. Earlier this month P.F. Chang’s leaked debit and credit card data from its customers, and although thousands of cards appeared on blackmarket data-selling websites, the scale of the breach is still unknown. Payment services for Michaels, Sally Beauty, and Neiman Marcus were also successfully infiltrated by hackers and infected with malware. In addition, computers at AOL, Adobe, and Snapchat have been breached. Even eBay, the king of online auction sites, was forced to ask 145 million users to change their passwords after a data breach last month. Clearly hackers are willing to go after any company, big or small.

With the rise of cybercrime, and the sophistication of data collection techniques, many Americans have become seriously concerned about the amount of their personal information that is available online. In fact, 50 percent reported this concern, a figure which has risen significantly in the past few years. In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, it was found that 15 percent of young adults, ages 18-29, were aware that important personal information was stolen from them such as credit card details, social security numbers, and bank account information.

Baby Boomers were also targeted, as 20 percent of those ages 50-64 indicated that personal information had been taken. These are significant consumer segments. According to a study conducted by qSample, Baby Boomers represent 40 percent of consumer demand, and 47 percent of all income in the U.S.

If consumers were unwilling to shop online, the consequences could be disastrous for businesses across the country. qSample has compiled a list of five precautions that consumers can take to reduce the risk of data-theft.

Data Theft

Data-theft is an epidemic that doesn’t only affect consumers. It also plagues businesses. Next week, qSample will release an article on how companies can regain consumer trust after a cyber-attack.

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qSample offers many great panels for data collection and analysis. In addition to large segments of general consumers, qSample cultivates high-quality specialty panels. Those panels include:

Mobile Users, Gamers, Voters, Contractors, Home Owners, Students, Baby Boomers, Veterinarians, and Pet Owners.

You can find more information by clicking on the “Panels” tab above, or contact qSample here

10 Things To Know About Amazon’s Fire Phone

A recent study by qSample showed that more than 60 percent of the mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones.

$7.19 billion will be spent on mobile ads next year, per the study’s findings. In 2016 that number is expected to triple to more than $21 billion. It comes as no surprise Amazon made quite the splash yesterday when they announced their own smartphone, Fire Phone.

Below are ten things to know about Amazon’s Fire Phone.

1.It has 3D technology.
The Fire Phone has four infrared cameras, one tucked away in each corner, that can easily track the position and movement of the phone user’s head, which creates a 3D effect with the impression of depth as their perspective shifts.

2.  The “Firefly” button.
When you press this button the phone will start to scan the real world for bar codes, book covers, magazines and phone numbers. It also has the capability to identify songs and videos by listening for the audio track. Amazon says Firefly can identify more than 100 million items.

3. The camera looks phenomenal.
The 13-megapixel shooter is said to be better than both the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S. It has optical image stabilization built in and the five-element, wide aperture lens should deliver decent photos even in poor light, and there’s a dedicated physical camera button to bring up the app within about a second.

4. It has Mayday support.
Similar to Amazon’s Kindle Fire Tablet, the Mayday button provides near-instant tech support over video chat, and “ASAP” pre-loads videos based on your viewing habits, so you spend less time buffering.  Amazon says it takes on average 15 seconds to get someone on the line.

5. It’s a media-heavy device.
One of the phone’s feature’s is known as ASAP- which is a tool that predicts which movies and TV shows you might want to watch and then immediately starts loading them up. The Fire Phone also has the second-screen X-Ray functionality seen on the Kindle Fire tablets.

6. It has a variety of navigational gestures.
You can quickly tilt the device in different directions to pull up panels with additional UI elements.

7. It comes equipped with Amazon services.
The Fire Phone includes one year of Amazon Prime service, which normally costs $99. This includes a selection of streaming video, streaming music and e-book rentals, and Amazon is throwing in unlimited photo storage as well.

8. No could restriction.
The Fire Phone offers unlimited storage of everything on your phone via its Amazon cloud drive.

9. The earbuds might be the best smartphone earbuds yet.
They have a flat cable and magnetic buds that snap together when not in use, helping them avoid getting tangled in your pocket.

10. It’s only available at AT&T and the price isn’t cheap.
There was talk Amazon was going to mix up the pricing model for smartphones, but the Fire Phone costs about the same as any other high-end hand set. It starts at $200 with 32 GB of storage, or $300 with 64 GB of storage. You can also buy it without a contract for $649 to $749.

Is Amazon on to something here? Can one assume the Fire Phone comes equipped with all of their services in an attempt to draw other smartphone users to the overall lure of Amazon and all it has to offer? Only time (and market research) will tell.

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qSample’s mobile panel consists of more than 500,000 active smartphone users around the globe who are uniquely identified with device identifiers (UDID), pre-screened and highly qualified to participate in a variety of research studies of any level of specificity. To find more information on qSample’s Mobile Panel, click here

Google’s Driverless Car Faces Significant Roadblocks

A few weeks ago, Google unveiled a new prototype of the driverless car, and sparked the imagination of people around the world. Unlike previous models, this version was designed entirely by Google and contains no steering wheel or pedals, making it the company’s first model to be entirely self-controlled. Consumer reactions were mixed, with excitement and support on one side, and skepticism on the other.

Google isn’t the first company to test a driverless car. The idea of a self-guiding vehicle has been around since the automobile was first created, and inventors have been testing prototypes since the 1920’s, but no one has been more successful than Google. This new prototype is the first of its kind that completely removes the steering wheel and pedals from the passenger’s control. Google announced plans to build 100 electric powered prototypes for thorough testing in the near future, which will be built by an unnamed company in Detroit. Those models will have a limited top speed of only 25mph for safety reasons, and should be road-ready within a year. Google isn’t the only company that is working on driverless car technology however, and some are even experimenting with larger vehicles. Peloton Technology, based in California, is currently testing self-driving systems in semi-trucks. Their program, which allows tractor-trailers to follow each other very closely in convoys, decreases wind resistance and fuel costs up to 10% for trailing vehicles, and 4.5% for leading ones. This could be substantial in an industry where fuel represents 40% of operating costs.

The practical applications are obvious, and companies are scrambling to spearhead the industry, but is society really ready for a driverless car? One major roadblock is human nature. People tend to be scared of new technology, especially when it removes control from them. According to a Harris poll of 2039 adult consumers, 88% of motorists indicated that they would be worried about riding in a driverless car, meaning that only 12% would feel no apprehension. Although many have embraced self-driving vehicles as a technology for the near future, some think of them as psychopathic vehicles that will terrorize motorways and run down innocent children in school playgrounds. Fortunately, Google has embraced the natural reaction of the public and is working to cultivate acceptance through strict testing.

Like any new technology, the driverless car is hampered by many problems and concerns. The systems used in Google’s prototypes are state-of-the-art, but still require a substantial amount of testing before they can even be considered for use by the public. Even with testing, things could still go wrong. Hardware can always malfunction, and programs can encounter errors. Consumers can’t trust their laptops not to crash, let alone a self-driving vehicle. In addition to this, a driverless car could be hacked or sabotaged. 39% of drivers surveyed indicated that they would be worried about hacking. The consequences of tampering with a computer-driven vehicle could be horrific. Therefore it is crucial that driverless cars be fitted with anti-virus software, and have safety features to prevent accidents in the event of a malfunction.

Legislation and regulations represent a significant problem as well. 59% of drivers surveyed would be worried about liability issues. Before a driverless car can operate on public roads, many questions have to be answered by legislators. For example: If a driverless car parks in a no-parking zone, who will receive the ticket? Should it be the manufacturer’s fault because the no-parking zone wasn’t programmed in? Or would the owner be ticketed for not supervising his vehicle’s actions? In addition to this, modern traffic laws are designed to accommodate human drivers. Artificial intelligence can respond to situations with staggering speed. Should driverless cars be allowed to drive faster and follow other vehicles at a shorter distance to mitigate traffic conditions? It may be some time before laws can be put in place to integrate human and computer controlled vehicles, and until those issues are solved, the driverless car will remain an ambitious dream.

Unfortunately, modern society is not ready to embrace a driverless car, but there is hope. Each of these problems represent a challenge and an opportunity for growth. If there is any company with the money and technological might to make the self-driving vehicle a reality, it’s Google, but it will not be an easy process. Challenges must be overcome, ideas must be accepted, and people must allow technology to flourish. It is human ingenuity that will pave the way for intelligent technology. For every roadblock in the path of the driverless car, there is a solution that can lead to bigger and better things.

qSample offers many great panels for data collection and analysis. In addition to general Consumers, qSample cultivates high-quality specialty panels. Those panels include: Mobile Users, Gamers, Voters, Contractors, Home Owners, Students, Baby Boomers, Veterinarians, and Pet Owners.

Going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup? It’s Going to Cost You!

According to the U.S. consulate in Rio, more than 187,000 tickets have been purchased by American credit cards and 80,000 U.S. visitors are expected to attend the Cup.

In the infographic below we break down a few of the costs Americans can expect to spend if they’re planning to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup in just one week. Would you be willing to pay the price?

FIFA World Cup

Infographic on travel costs for FIFA 2014

Will Office for iPad Make Tablets the Tool for Work?

Last month, Microsoft shook the tablet world by finally launching its Office for iPad apps, and the reverberations may be felt for years to come.

While tablets have become extremely popular, with many users preferring smaller to bulky and more awkward laptops, they have yet to truly find their niche in the business world. Even with bluetooth keyboards, and writing tools like Google Docs and iWork, many businesses refuse to adopt the device as a serious business tool. In the academic arena, many students prefer tablets for note taking and research, but find it awkward to use for papers and presentations. The launch of Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps is designed to change all that.

We conducted a survey with our general consumer panel to gauge their level in the new Microsoft Office for iPad app. The survey was fielded in less than 2 days during the first week of April, with more than 400 respondents sharing their insights on this new product and what it means to them professionally.

Survey results clearly indicate that tablets are still very popular with the general populaltion. Unsurprisingly, Apple was king among those devices with  almost half (40.45%) of our panel indicated they own a version of the iPad, but a mere 26.18% claim their primary uses for those tablets are for work and school. Confirming our suspicions, we found that entertainment rules the tablet world, with a staggering 69.12% of our panel logging on for fun. As always, internet surfing, watching videos, and updating social network pages continue to be a staple of tablet use.

Clearly this isn’t a hardware issue, and many who own Apple devices, such as the iPad, prefer to use the Microsoft Office software. This suggests that the new apps will be very well received by tablet owners, but there is a lot more involved than ease of use. Our survey showed that there was a strong positive reaction to the Office for iPad apps, as 63.02% said that they plan on using the new apps now that they are available, yet 76.56% didn’t feel that the apps were worth the $99 subscription fee. This is likely due to the abundance of less powerful, but free, programs/apps that will allow users to run similar tasks. Price does seem to play an enormous role, as 64.58% of our panel is considering the free Microsoft Office smartphone apps as a serious alternative. This poses the question of whether or not smartphones may find a place as a document editing tool in the business world as well.

The smartphone apps may be free, but lack many important features that are available on the iPad and laptop versions. In addition to features, portability seems to be a factor. Today’s “on-the-go” lifestyle means that document editing on a smartphone may be preferable to carrying a bulky laptop, or even a tablet. On the down side, small screens and lack of features may discourage users from choosing apps like Office for smartphones, even if they’re free. Our panel was also concerned about storage space on their devices. These apps can take up a considerable amount of space on users’ iPads, and 67.71% claimed that this alone would discourage them from downloading the software.

Cloud services have been available for some time, but there is no question that Microsoft has arrived very late to the game. This may be due to the company’s efforts to streamline their products for unconventional devices, or a simple lack of attention to the tablet market. In either case, this is definitely an interesting move for Microsoft. One pitfall of releasing the apps for the iPad is that this may have a negative effect on the sales of non-Apple tablets, including Microsoft’s own Surface. In addition, the Office for iPad apps are significantly better looking and much more streamlined than other versions. This may influence which tablets businesses buy for their employees, and ultimately hurt Microsoft’s Surface sales as well. Apple will receive a percentage of Office 365 subscription fees sold through iTunes, which will also add to the funding of their competition. All of these factors make the late release of the Office for iPad apps a very interesting decision. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s new launch was a brilliant strategy, or too-little-too-late, but in any case, the world is taking a second look at the tablet as a serious business tool.

Microsoft Office for iPad Infographic (3)

An Ivy League Of Their Own

What do 5 of the last 7 presidents and 100% of the Supreme Court Justices have in common?  They graduated from Ivy League universities.  Ivy League graduates are truly in a league of their own.  With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, Ivies are a uniquely influential and affluent demographic, making them particularly appealing to marketers.

This November, the Ivy League Magazine Network and qSample teamed up to survey readers from the eight Ivy League Magazines. Partial results from the survey is depicted in the infographic below. The online study consists of data collected from more than 1500 survey participants. Each reader panel is comprised entirely of graduates from Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.

Readers of the Ivy League Magazines find real value in the alumni publication, with over 85% indicating that the magazine has helped them to become successful.  The relationship of mutual respect between panelists and publication fosters high response rates and honest responses from participants.

Over 75% of respondents are active on social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the 2 most popular social media sites among participants, with 60% on Facebook and 56% on LinkedIn.  However, usage of social media varied from panel-to-panel with Brown Alumni more like to use Facebook 69%.

Giving back is important to the Ivy League Panel participants with 77% indicating that they volunteer in their community, while 43% do so on a regular basis.

Ivy League Magazine Panel respondents are both affluent and influential among peers in consumer spending categories such as personal technology, automobiles, travel and financial services.

Over the next 12 months, 76% of participants own or plan to purchase a smartphone and 70% own or plan to purchase a tablet computer.  Among smartphone users, iPhone and Android operating systems are the most popular operating systems with 63% of respondents using iPhones and 20% Android.

Ivy League Magazine Panel respondents have the real spending power to make luxury purchases such as high-end vehicles and international travel.  Over the next 12 months, 21% of respondents own or plan to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle and 34% own or plan to purchase a luxury automobile.

Panelists are frequent travelers with 99% of respondents planning to travel for either business or leisure within the United States this year.  Fifty-eight percent plan to travel to Europe, 17% to Asia and 20% plan to take a cruise.

With a median net worth of over $900,000, Ivy League Magazine readers strategically invest and protect their finances.  Over the next 12 months, 84% of respondents own or plan to invest in mutual funds, 80% own or plan to invest in stocks, 73% own or plan to purchase money market accounts and 71% own or plan to purchase life insurance.

In an Ivy League of their own, Ivy League Magazine Panel men and women have a uniquely affluent profile, difficult to find in any research panel.  The Ivy League survey is part of qSample’s EDU Intelligence series on educational research. The survey consists of more than 30 questions ranging from smart phone usage, financial investment, travel, philanthropy, social media, etc. To learn more about the EDU Intelligence series, email sales-team@qsample.com.

infographicRudFinal

Voters Blame GOP for Government Shutdown

Who’s to blame for the government shutdown of 2013? Depends who you ask.

In late September 2013, the House voted to make funding the government contingent on a one-year delay of the Obamacare healthcare reforms. Consequently, from October 1, 2013, the start of the government’s new fiscal year, to October 17, 2013, the U.S. government was shut down, placing hundreds of thousands of federal workers on unpaid leave. Select essential services remained open for public safety.

In an age of bipartisan politics, when uncompromising parties reach an apparent stalemate, the inevitable blame game ensues. But, we aren’t just a nation of Democratic and Republican citizens, who support our respective party no matter what. Despite the simplistic picture the media often paints, we are a bit more complex than Democrats supporting Democratic Party decisions and Republicans supporting Republican Party decisions; although, party loyalty is part of the story too.

qSample tapped into both its general consumer panel, SurveyGIANTS and its likely voter panel, VoterFeedback. Half of likely voter participants (50%) believe the Republicans are solely to blame for the government shutdown, while just 30% of the general population respondents blame House Republicans only. Thirty percent of likely voter respondents blame both parties and 45% of general population respondents say both are at fault.

govtshutdown1a

Both groups surveyed exhibited some apparent party allegiance with Democratic respondents being the most likely group to blame House Republicans solely. Fifty-three percent of the Democratic general population respondents and 81% of Democratic likely voter respondents blame just the House Republicans for the government shutdown.

On the other hand, Republicans from both groups surveyed were most likely to blame both the House and Senate for the shutdown, with 54% of Republicans from the general population group and 46% of Republicans from the likely voter group blaming both parties.

Where do Independents fall in his debate? Forty-eight percent of Independents from the general population group blame both parties, while 35% blame just the Republicans. The numbers are reversed when we look a Independents’ responses from the VoterFeedback group. Forty-eight percent blame Republicans only and 34% blame both parties.

govtshutdown2a

Where do these same groups of people stand on Obamacare? The majority of both the general population respondents (68%) and likely voter respondents (62%) are in favor or neutral towards Obamacare, with 26% and 35% opposed respectively.

Both groups feel effected in some way by the government shutdown with 34% of the general population respondents and 29% of the likely voter respondents saying that the shutdown affects them either personally or financially or both. Another 24% and 37% respectively say that the shutdown affects either their friends or family.

Whether a citizen is directly affected by the shutdown or feels empathy towards those going without pay or concern over the political system, economy or healthcare reform, the 2013 shutdown touched people in a lot of different ways. Voters will likely remember these events come election time, and the shutdown may even affect the outcome of some elections.

VoterFeedback is an online community of likely voters who have agreed to participate in various roundtable discussions on both national and local issues. To learn more about qSample’s VoterFeedback panel, visit voterfeedback.com.

Double_Info_Gov_Shutdown2

by Stacy Sherwood

Did Limbaugh and Deen’s Advertisers Bail Too Soon?

Turns out, not all press is good press. When public figures like Rush Limbaugh and Paula Deen recently made media waves with sexist and racist words respectively, it caused many of their advertisers to bail. In the case of Paula Dean, her career fell instantly like an imploded soufflé. So why is Limbaugh still on the air over 6 months after his ordeal while Deen’s TV show got canceled right away? We already know a big part of it is ad revenue. But, why do advertisers tend to jump ship long before the storm has the chance to settle? Why did Deen’s words rock the boat worse than Limbaugh’s? What does the public really think about the brands that are advertising on these shows?

Let’s take a closer look at the two stories. Deen publicly admitted to having said the n-word in the past and apologized profusely saying it was “inappropriate,” “hurtful” and “totally unacceptable.” Rush called Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, a “slut,” repeatedly during his show for speaking at a democratic hearing about the need for contraceptives both as birth control and for broader medical reasons. Limbaugh saw Fluke as an advocate for casual sex. All told, he tallied up approximately 70 personal insults directed toward Fluke on his on-air talk show, making it impossible for anyone to argue his remarks were just a fluke. Like Deen, Rush also apologized publicly. Why is Limbaugh still on the air but not Deen?

There are two main theories bouncing around the media that attempt to explain the difference between Limbaugh’s situation and Deen’s situation. First, we are reminded to consider that the two figures have different audiences with different expectations. Limbaugh built a career on being controversial. He speaks to a niche audience of mostly conservative white males that value him because of his bold opinions. Deen’s audience, on the other hand, seeks controversy-free comfort food and southern hospitality. Even a pinch of racism ruins the Paula Deen recipe of sugar and spice and everything nice.

The second theory is that a little sexism will be tolerated, but racism is never okay. In 2011, Gilbert Gottfried was dropped by Aflac as the voice of the duck after he carelessly tweeted jokes about Japan after the tsunami. Gottfried’s public persona is similar Limbaugh’s in the sense that his audience also expects a certain degree of edginess from him, but his tweets crossed the line. Here’s one example, “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, “They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.”

Aflac originally hired Gottfried knowing that tact was not his strong suit. Gottfried is considered to be one of the first to make a joke publicly about 9/11. He quipped that he could not get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop at the Empire State Building first.” However, Aflac does a high percentage of its business in Japan, making Gottfried’s jokes deal-breakers.

Limbaugh is still on the air, and he is still at risk for loosing advertisers, ratings and potentially the renewal of his show. QuestionPro and qSample teamed up to take a quick poll of the SurveyGIANTS panel to find out what the public thinks of the brands advertising on his show. Only 13% of respondents said that their opinion would be negatively affected if a brand they trusted advertised on The Rush Limbaugh Show. Forty-seven percent said their opinion of the brand would be unchanged, while 32% said their opinion would actually be positively affected. About 8% didn’t know who Rush Limbaugh is.

Rush_Limbaugh_Chart

For the 32% who responded that they look favorably upon a brand continuing to advertise on Limbaugh’s show, it makes you wonder if the fleeing advertisers have got it all wrong. Perhaps the public is more forgiving than advertisers think. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Spouses say hurtful things, but it’s usually not grounds for immediate divorce. From the advertiser’s perspective though, there are plenty more uncontroversial fish in the sea. In business, there isn’t much loyalty, but the public may not be as quick to view Limbaugh and Deen as just tainted brands. Limbaugh and Deen are people who make mistakes, and they are public figures who are expected to lead by example. While the people might not agree with what Limbaugh and Deen said, they might be ready to forgive.

by Stacy Sherwood

Student Debt: The Good, the Bad and the Plastic

We’ve all seen the headlines about college students graduating with unprecedented debt, but not all debt is created equal, and not all student debt is insurmountable or even a bad thing. Debt is a more complex subject than mainstream media has the time or resources to tackle because of factors such as multiple types of debt, from loans to credit card debt, combined with varying interest rates, costs of living, employment status, wages and how all these factors change over time.

Tuition and fees for 2012-2013 at public 4-year colleges cost students on average $8,655.00 per semester, an increase of 104% since just one decade ago. So, why does tuition continue to increase faster than inflation? States have cut the amount the money they give to colleges by about 17% in the last 5 years. At the same time student enrollment continues to rise, indicating that young adults still view a college education as a worthy investment despite the rising costs. i

Two-thirds of American students will graduate with some debt. And, the average borrower will graduate with $26,600 of debt. ii

Still, student loan debt is often referred to as “good debt”. A college degree is an investment in the future, required in some fields and providing a competitive edge in others. Over the course of a lifetime, associate’s degree recipients will earn $500,000 more than those with only high school diplomas, and those with bachelor’s degrees will earn $500,000 more than those with associate’s degrees. iii

Student loans aren’t the whole debt picture. Some students will graduate with credit card debt or other types of loan debt. While credit card debt is often labeled as “bad debt” it is really more about why the individual has the debt, not what form it takes. For example, a laptop for school might be a good investment (good debt), while spring break in Mexico might be poor investment (bad debt).

qSample wanted to find out how credit card debt factored into the big debt picture for students. A recent survey of qSample’s Campus Universe panel revealed that most participants (99%) own at least 1 major credit card. Participants’ top reasons for having major credit card(s) tended to be responsible with over 60% indicating that “build my credit rating” and “in case of emergency” are very important reasons to have a credit card. Almost half of participants (46%) reported having no credit card debt at all, while about 25% have over $1,000 in credit card debt. Student loan debt was much more prevalent in the group with over 50% owing $10,000+.

Most participants with credit card debt (82%) planned to have their credit card debt paid off in 2 years or less. Only 15% of participants with student loans planned to have them paid off in 2 years or less. Thirty-one percent planned to have their student loans paid off within 3 to 5 years and 28% planned to be done within 5 to 10 years. Nine percent believed it will take closer to 20 to 30 years to pay off their student loans.

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Given the typical ratio of load-to-card debt, it is no surprise that the Campus Universe panelists said that they worry more about their loans than their credit card bills. Over 50% of participants only rarely or occasionally worry about credit card debt, while 21% worry often or all the time. When it comes to student loans, 37% rarely or occasionally worry about their debt, and 40% worry often or all of the time.

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The federal government depends heavily on student loan programs for funding and is expected to make a record $50 billion in profits this year. The good news is that measures are being taken to help keep student debt within reason. In August of 2013, President Obama signed a new law that dictates Federal Student loans will now move with the financial markets. This will lower interest rates for now but could mean higher interest rates as the economy improves. However the loans do have a cap. With the new law, federal student loan interest rates now range from 3.4% to 6.41% depending on the type of loan. iv

The U.S Government has also been looking out for its youngest cardholders. Gone are the days of credit card companies giving away t-shirts on the quad. The 2009 Credit Card Act requires the card companies to stay 1,000 feet away from campus if offering free giveaways. Plus, anyone under 21 needs either an adult co-signer or proof of adequate income to repay the debt. v

Student debt in all its forms is typically not that scary. Yes, there are extreme cases that rack up to six figures and take decades to pay down. But most of the time, an education is a sound investment in the future. By and large, students are staying away from overspending on credit cards, which could lead to a larger debt problem with higher interest rates. With the Credit Card Act of 2009 and the recent student loan relief, the federal government is taking measures to protect young adults from accumulating too much debt too early in life. For most college students, the future is brighter and shiner than the plastic in their wallets.

i http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/24/pf/college/public-college-tuition/index.html
ii http://www.forbes.com/sites/specialfeatures/2013/08/07/how-the-college-debt-is-crippling-students-parents-and-the-economy/
iii http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/26/pf/college/community-college-earnings/index.html
iv http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57597680/6-things-to-know-about-the-new-student-loan-rates/
v http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/what-the-new-credit-card-rules-mean-6000.php

Campus Universe is an online community of on and off campus college students who have opted-in to participate in a variety of research studies. The panel is developed and managed by qSample, a Chicago based research and data collection firm.

by Stacy Sherwood