How Do American College Students Manage Their Finances?

We have written an earlier post about college students and their use of credit cards.  The picture seems have improved over the past ten years. In general, students have fewer credit cards and lower balances. If your student has a credit card, have a conversation with him about how he uses his card and how he feels about credit.

We’d like to share some additional information from the same Experian study that gives an extended view of college students and their finances.  Clearly, many students are thinking about their money and their finances and are working to be responsible.  But there are also areas where there is room for improvement.

We hope this information may provide additional conversation starters with your college student.  Where does your student fit in the college student financial picture?

Where do students learn about money management?

71% of students say they have learned about money management from their parents.

23% of students say they have learned about money management online.

22% of students say they have learned about money management in high school classes.

What do students want to know more about?

83% of students want to learn more about managing their finances.

37% of students want to learn more about saving strategies.

32 % of students want to learn more about budgeting.

What about credit reports?

91% of students know that your credit score matters.

67% of students are aware of credit reports.

49% of students have viewed their credit report.

Do students save?

24% of students have an emergency fund.

60% of students say they never spend more money than they have.

55% of students say they try to save some money each month.

56% of students say they track their spending.

What about credit cards?

85% of students have debit cards.

59% of students say one of the primary reasons they have a credit card is to build their credit history.

28% of students pay the card with the higher interest rate first if they have multiple cards.

77% of students say they pay their credit bills on time.

69% of students have an average credit card balance under $500.

Do students think about debt?

61% of students worry about out of control spending.

53% of students don’t mind having some debt.

54% of students assume they will probably have some debt for the rest of their lives.

Of course, all of these are just numbers.  What matters is what your student thinks and how your student feels about his money, his debt, and his financial literacy.  Talk to your student about some of these numbers and ask his reaction.  Is he surprised?  Does it make sense?  Where does he fit?

Related articles:

College Students and Credit Cards

12 Topics Parents Should Cover to Help College Students Gain Financial Literacy

How – and Why – to Help Your College Student Create a Budget

Helping Your Student Manage Expenses in College

Your Penny-Pinching College Student


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