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Survey Finds Student Loans #1 Cause of Financial Hardship for Kentuckians

Student loans, medical debt and car payments are some of the reasons Kentuckians are feeling financially pinched. (Adobe stock)
Student loans, medical debt and car payments are some of the reasons Kentuckians are feeling financially pinched. (Adobe stock)
April 29, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new survey of nearly 400 Kentuckians finds that student loans are the number one cause of financial hardship for respondents.

Other reasons for experiencing financial hardship include medical debt, rent, payday lending, credit cards and car payments.

Most of the survey participants were women, and 26 percent said they were survivors of domestic violence.

Andrea Miller, director of Economic Empowerment Programs for the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, led the survey, conducted at mobile tax preparation sites in Morehead, Maysville and Somerset. She says women often stay in an abusive relationship for economic reasons.

"We have survivors who, if they are working, their partner takes their pay, gives them an allowance or just controls all the household finances,” Miller explains. “That might be even just a disability check. We might have a survivor that's on a disability benefit that the partner controls."

Each tax season, Miller and a team of volunteers set up free, pop-up tax preparation services across the state. This year, her team brought nearly $700,000 in federal tax refunds back to residents.

Miller points out tax season is a time to get organized and take advantage of any income tax credits for which individuals might be eligible.

Using tax refunds to pay bills or boost a savings account can set women on a path toward financial independence.

"I have one client – she went through our home ownership program – and she uses her tax refund every year to pay her mortgage up, which is great because she works an hourly job and she worries about not having enough hours to keep her mortgage payment up, so she pays herself ahead," Miller relates.

As part of its economic empowerment initiative, the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence works to help domestic violence survivors set up savings accounts for specific goals or to establish an emergency fund. Through the program, the coalition will match the account holder's savings.

Disclosure: Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence contributes to our fund for reporting on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY