Money & The Economy

College Students are Contributing More to Their Higher Education Costs

A student’s personal financial contributions play an increasingly important role in obtaining a college degree. For the first time since 2019, the annual College Ave Student Loans survey of college students at four-year universities conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights™ finds that the student’s personal income and savings rank second (its highest ever) and ahead of the parent’s personal income and savings as a top method used to pay for college. There are other significant changes during the same time span, including less merit aid, less parental support, and more private student loans.

The Top 5 Methods Used to Pay for College
Merit Aid (scholarships and grants)51%64%-13
Student Savings and Income45%37%+8
Parent Savings and Income41%50%-9
Federal Student Loans41%43%-2
Private Student Loans17%12%+5

Though students are contributing more towards their college education, surprisingly less feel stressed about the cost of college (68% in 2022 vs. 83% in 2021) and more feel strongly that a college degree is important for their future (85% in 2022 vs. 78% in 2021).

“Undergraduate students are deeply committed to their higher education,” said Joe DePaulo, Co-Founder, and CEO of College Ave Student Loans. “Our survey highlights the students’ investment in their college journey and their strong belief that a college degree is a crucial milestone on the path toward their successful future.”Personal Finance Habits of College Students

Though college students may feel down on their finances, the survey shows many have solid financial skills. “Broke,” “expensive,” and “stressful” are the top three words that came to students’ minds when thinking about their current financial situation. However, many students feel confident in understanding checking accounts (62%), savings accounts (59%), and budgeting (55%). Around half have a job (51%), keep a personal budget (50%), and are willing to make financial tradeoffs, such as not dining out or other activities, due to cost (49%).

Students are also investing in their future – 43% are saving while in college and 17% have been able to invest, too. With credit cards, 47% feel they have a good understanding of the financial product. However, about 1 in 5 (18%) report they currently have credit card debt. The survey also finds that cryptocurrency is the least understood financial term among students, with only 12% feeling confident on the topic. Student Loans and College Students

As compared to other financial terms, students feel uncomfortable about their knowledge around student loans, with only 27% reporting feeling confident about the financial product. Though most students who have student loans understand they will pay back more than they borrow (78%) – 64% feel their student loan payment will be more than they anticipated and only 26% know what their monthly student loan payment will be when they graduate. The good news – almost 1 in 5 (18%) are making student loan payments while in school, a financial decision that can save money.

For students who want to ace student loan borrowing or repayment, College Ave offers the following tips:

  • Borrow federal loans in the student’s name first. These loans come with unique benefits and protections not typically offered by private student loan lenders.
  • Don’t borrow more than your first year’s salary. Less than half of student’s considered their future salary when borrowing student loans (46%). A good rule of thumb: do not borrow in total more than you expect to earn in your first year out of school. By doing so, you give yourself a good chance to repay the loan within 10 years or less.
  • Make a plan to repay. More than half of students who have student loans will repay them without help from their parents (57%). The first step is to get organized – know your student loan servicer, make sure they have your current information, and find out how much your monthly loan payment will be upon graduation. You may also want to enroll in automatic payments, which can ensure payments are made on time and could also lead to a reduced interest rates from lenders like College Ave. The College Ave app also makes repayments simple and easy to do from your mobile device. By having a good handle on your student loans, it will set you up for a stronger financial future.

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Carl Fox

Carl Fox is the senior money and finance writer for Conservative Daily News. Follow him in the "Money & The Economy" section at CDN and see his posts on the "Junior Economists" Facebook page.

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