Survey: 2 in 5 college students worry they don't have enough money to make it through the semester

Aarthi Swaminathan
·Reporter
·2 min read

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just ruined the college experience for many students, it’s caused anxiety around their finances, too, according to a new survey.

Two in 5 said they were anxious about the current school year because of COVID-19, while 38% of students said they were worried about having enough money to last the semester.

Another 2 in 5 said they wouldn't be able to pay off a major unexpected expense, according to the survey from AIG and EVERFI that included responses from 7,099 college students in 26 states, conducted between August 28 and September 28.

One-third added that COVID-19 has added financial stress to these families, and one-fifth had taken on additional work to help pay for college.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 22: BU students walk down Commonwealth Ave. outside the George Sherman Union (GSU) at Boston University in Boston on Oct. 22, 2020. Starting Thursday, BU students will be required to show a green badge on their phones showing that they had tested negative for Covid-19 before they enter dining areas. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston University students walk down Commonwealth Ave. on Oct. 22, 2020. (Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Just transitioning into college and gaining “independence can be a time of anxiety under the best of circumstances,” Rob Scheinerman, CEO at AIG Retirement Services, told Yahoo Finance. “And I think it's fair to say we are not operating under the best of circumstances.”

The uncertainty from whether the virus was going to spread, the concern over whether they’re transmitting the virus to their parents and grandparents, and “the extraordinary economic gyrations the country has been through,” weighs on students, he added.

And graduating into a recession doesn’t help either. Almost 3 in 5 students — or 57% — said they’ll have student loans by graduation.

Pandemic is a ‘pivotal moment’ for financial education

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24: Students sit at socially distanced desks as they attend a Public Relations class at Boston University in Boston on Sept. 23, 2020. Most classes at BU are still remote, so students living on campus find spots on benches or at tables to get out of their dorms for the day. The pandemic has altered the landscape of college life (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Students sit at socially distanced desks as they attend a Public Relations class at Boston University in Boston on Sept. 23, 2020. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

But there is a silver lining, Scheinerman said.

College students are checking their bank account balances more regularly, up from 65% last year to 72% this year, and making minimum payments on their credit cards, up from 60% to 71%.

They’re also planning to pay off their student loan payments on time — up from 66% last year to 76%.

And they’re also budgeting and planning ahead for their future, up from 48% least year to 53%.

“These are formative years where you're getting technically an education, but you're also getting personal education,” Scheinerman said. “Despite the anxiety … there is an element where you can only control two things in life ... your activity and your attitude.”

And this pandemic may be a “pivotal moment” for these college students, Scheinerman said, “for forming lifetime habits of good financial resilience.”

Aarthi is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. She can be reached at aarthi@yahoofinance.com. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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