College Students Improving Financial Habits Amid Coronavirus Crisis

College Students Improving Financial Habits Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Nearly one-third cite added stress on family, but many are better prepared in 2020-21
A college student studies outside

While nearly one-third of college students are experiencing additional financial anxiety due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are rising to the challenge.

More than 3 in 10 (32%) college students said the COVID-19 crisis has added financial stress for their families, according to a new survey by financial services company AIG Retirement Services and digital curriculum developer Everfi.

As students grapple with other concerns, such as their health and the well-being of their families, many are tightening their purse strings and finding alternative ways to keep college bills down.

College costs a top concern

With the average cost of college being $20,770 a year at public in-state schools and $46,950 a year at private nonprofits, students are particularly concerned about how the pandemic may impact their ability to pay for their education. To help pay college costs:

  • 23% have applied or considered applying for more scholarships and grants
  • 21% have taken on additional work or are considering doing so

Students are also being more proactive about their financial health. For example, 72% reported checking their bank account balances regularly during the 2020-2021 academic year, compared with 65% who did so during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Also, 75% of respondents said they stop spending money when their cash starts running low, compared with 64% who did so last academic year.

Students also appear to be more wary of going into debt, as more than half (57%) said they always make more than the minimum payment on their credit cards, up from 42% last academic year.

Students practicing good credit habits

An earlier survey found that some consumers are worried about the pandemic’s long-term consequences on their credit scores. Many college students are taking steps to ensure their credit remains intact — at least by paying their bills on time.

In fact, 71% of respondents to the AIG/Everfi survey said they plan to pay their credit card bills on time, up from 60% the previous academic year. More than 6 in 10 (61%) plan to pay their entire credit card bill each month so they can avoid paying interest, up from more than 5 in 10 (52%) last academic year.

To keep up with those bills, some students will be depending on their budgeting skills. More than half (53%) said they’ll create a budget to track their everyday spending and saving, up from 48% last academic year. Also, 57% plan to use a budget to limit their spending, up from 53% last academic year.

Students are also looking further into the future — to when their student loans will come due. More than three-fourths of respondents (76%) said they plan to make their student loan payments on time, up from 68% last academic year. Also, 76% expect to pay off their student loans entirely, up from 66% in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Methodology: AIG Retirement Services and Everfi surveyed 7,099 college students from 64 colleges and universities in 26 states. The survey took place between Aug. 28 and Sept. 28, 2020.