College Students Report Increasing Financial Literacy During Current Crisis
illustration of new college student entering campus

College Students Report Increasing Financial Literacy During Current Crisis

It’s been said thousands of times by this point but it remains undeniably true: the 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any other. With the COVID-19 pandemic still top of mind for students, parents, teachers, and administrators – schools and campuses across the nation are navigating the best path forward with some opening to limited in-person activity while others remain strictly online for the foreseeable future.

Of course, while elementary and high school students have certainly been experiencing changes in the past few months, college students have been particularly impacted. This includes freshmen who may not have even had a traditional graduation before taking the next step in their schooling. On top of that, as a new survey from WalletHub finds, the pandemic itself is impacting the way many college students think about their finances now and after their school days are done.

According to the survey’s finding, two-thirds of college students have altered their feelings regarding their financial future overall. Similarly, 70% stated that they expect the crisis will make it more difficult for them to get a job. Turning to current conditions, 43% of those surveyed ranked the coronavirus as the top factor holding them back financially — compared to 42% who said a “lack of money.”

In terms of silver linings, like many Americans, several of the college students surveyed reported improving their financial literacy during the pandemic. In fact, 60% of respondents stated as much. Asked what financial topics they’d learned the most about in recent months, “saving” was the top response with 40%. That was followed “the economy” and “employment,” which each garnered 22% of responses. Meanwhile 10% of those surveyed said they’ve learned more about the stock market and 6% stated they’ve recently been better educated on debt.

Given this newfound financial literacy, 15% more students said they’d give themselves an ‘A’ in personal finance in this year’s survey when compared to 2019’s results. Additionally, the number of respondents who would describe themselves as “savers” increased 14% from last year.

Along with the majority of students surveyed think differently about their finances due to the pandemic, 67% also stated that the crisis has changed the way they feel about education. However, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez warns that, while students should take the impacts of the pandemic into effect, they shouldn’t lose sight of the greater picture. As she explains, “Students should always be thinking about their future schooling and career prospects in order to make sure they’re putting themselves in the best possible position to succeed, and when new variables are added to the equation, that may change the final conclusion.” Gonzalez added, “Students should not make any rash decisions in the heat of the moment, however, because the coronavirus pandemic is not done shaping young people’s futures.”

As the new school year gets underway — in at least some manner — students will continue to find themselves in some unique predicaments. On the bright side, hopefully the lessons they learn from this event will better equip them for the “real world” that awaits them beyond their college years. That includes the valuable financial skills that many are currently picking up. Hopefully these newfound tools will help them out now and into the future.

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