The fourth-year results of Money Matters on Campus, a survey of nearly 90,000 college students across the United States—approximately 85,000 from four-year institutions and 4,300 from two-year institutions—show that 90 percent of students feel they do not have all the information necessary to pay off their college loans. This year’s data uncovered alarming trends in the levels of stress students face in regard to money management, and showed a continued decrease in students’ planning for responsible financial behaviors—including paying back their student loans.
Similar to findings in previous iterations of this study, conducted by EverFi and sponsored by Higher One, money management experience was shown to have positive effects on knowledge and behavior, underscoring the need for young adults to be provided with opportunities to gain financial experience, such as managing a bank account, before or very early into their college experience.
“Over the past four years, we have seen that developing financial capability is an incredibly important part of educating college students. These survey results highlight that fact, and we must continue to push for more—and better—financial education as well as opportunities to provide students with access to real-world financial experiences,” said Mary Johnson, vice president of financial literacy and student aid policy at Higher One. “Students who use loans to pay for college must also be educated about the responsibility to pay off college loans and have a better understanding of repayment options—an endeavor in which families, financial institutions and colleges and universities should all play a part.”
The survey results also indicate important differences between students from two- and four-year institutions. Students from two-year institutions, for example, reported engaging in more fiscally responsible monitoring behaviors including checking account balances and budgeting—and were more cautious, more averse to debt, more utilitarian, less materialistic and more content overall than their four-year counterparts.
“The differences found between students at four-year institutions compared to students at two-year institutions were surprising—with research showing that two-year college students engage in much safer financial decisions overall,” said Dan Zapp, Ph.D., director of research at EverFi. “However, as students progress in their college career, we see that many of their financial behaviors deteriorate to a certain degree. Empowering students to positively change behaviors and make informed financial decisions is more important today than ever before.”
Indeed, researchers noted that several key indicators of responsible financial behavior declined over the course of the semester, as money management may be more difficult for students than first anticipated. Student ratings of their own preparedness for college also decreased and, as was found last year, students reported being less prepared to manage their money than almost any other aspect of college life. To assist them in preparing to pay off their student loans, students most often cited their desire to have easy access to their loan balances, a better understanding of loan repayment options and help with making a repayment plan.
The study’s findings provide strong evidence that financial education assistance and outreach early in a student’s college experience would be valuable for students across both sectors. In particular, two-year students could use additional support in regards to credit card management, as they tended to have more cards and more outstanding debt on average. Students at four-year institutions would benefit from programming focused on more basic attitudinal components and helping them to differentiate between their true financial need and the loans available to them.
A full copy of Money Matters on Campus, as well as an infographic summarizing this year’s key findings, can be downloaded at www.moneymattersoncampus.org.
About Higher One
Higher One, a financial technology company focused on higher education, leads the $tart with Change℠ financial literacy initiative dedicated to financially empowering millennials, students and others. Providing financial education, community support, and financial management tools, $tart with Change’s mission is to help those with financial challenges to understand how to manage money, make smarter everyday financial decisions and establish strong financial foundations that will lead to a lifetime of smarter money management. Learn more at www.startwithchange.com.
About EverFi, Inc.
EverFi, Inc., is the leading education technology company focused on teaching, assessing, and certifying K-12 and college students in the critical skills they need for life. The company is powering a national movement in 50 states that enables students to learn using the latest technology, including rich media, 3D gaming, simulations, social networking, and virtual worlds. EverFi’s AlcoholEdu® for College is one of the few education technology programs proven to reduce student alcohol use and negative consequences, as demonstrated through independently conducted, empirical research funded by the National Institutes of Health. EverFi has reached more than 7 million students with its online learning platforms. Learn more at www.everfi.com.
Bobby Mathews, 205-310-2024