In a long-term context, student finances have become a term
of sharp debate in both social and political circles. But one thing that many
people don’t consider when discussing student finances is information about
short-term student finances. After college, some students may be able to find a
better financial position and pay off their debts, but how does college impact
your finances while you’re actually going through it? OneClass recently did a
study regarding how much money students
have in their bank accounts, and the responses may shed additional light on
student financial situations.
Seeing All the Responses
First off, it’s a good idea to look at the raw data. What did students
respond overall? Here are all the responses regarding bank account information.
- $0-$50: 13.5%
- $51-$500: 22.8%
- $501-$1,000: 10.5%
- $1,001-$2,000: 10.3%
- $2,001-$5,000: 20.1%
- $5,001-$10,000: 13.0%
- $10,001 or more: 9.8%
Although this basic information is very helpful when
discussing student financial wellness, it’s hard to truly get an idea of what
this means in a real-world context. Here are just a few things you can take
from this survey.
A Startling Number of Students Didn’t
Even Report Having More Than $50
13.5% of students reported having between $0-$50 in their bank accounts;
students who were carrying overdraft balances and had negatives in their bank
account likely chose this option as well. This number might not seem
substantial until you realize that it’s just over one out of every eight
students. That means that in a class of 50 people, between six and seven of
them statistically may have $50 or less in their bank accounts right now.
Nearly Half of Students Reported Having
$1,000 or Less in Liquid Assets
It’s also interesting to look at the larger picture. As a person, it’s
important to make sure that you have enough money to handle small emergencies
that come your way, and students tend toward not having that. Overall, 46.8% of
students reported having $1,000 or less. That includes all liquid funds, which means
that some students may not even be able to handle a minor emergency if it were
to come their way. Going back to a class of 50 people, between 23 and 24 people
wouldn’t have more than $1,000.
Students Overwhelmingly Don’t Have a
Proper Emergency Fund Saved Up
If you’ve been researching financial wellness, you probably know of the
concept of an emergency fund. Also called a “rainy day fund,” an emergency fund
includes enough to cover 3-6 months of recurring expenses, which can cover an
unexpected loss of income — for example, a medical emergency or a job loss. And
77.2% of students indicated that they had $5,000 or less, which definitely
doesn’t cover an emergency fund, especially considering that it includes both
checking and savings accounts. In that class of 50 people, only 11 to 12 people
could potentially have a proper emergency fund.
As College Continues, You Might Find
Your Finances Waning
In addition to collecting information about bank accounts, OneClass also
collected information about the respondents’ college years. Though not enough
fourth-year students responded to gather any insights, the survey did find that
third-year students tended to have the least. Most commonly, third-year
students reported having $51-$500, with the median answer being $0-$50.
Overall, it’s hard to draw any definite conclusions just from one study,
and more research would definitely fill in some of these blanks. But it’s clear
that students tend toward less financial wellness than many other parts of the population.
Whether you’re considering going into college, you’re currently in college, or
you just like knowing more about the current state of financial wellness in the
United States, these are interesting pieces of information that you might want
to think about next time you’re talking about collegiate financial wellness.