Nearly one-fourth of college freshmen feels others would be horrified if they knew about their spending habits: Report
More than three-fourths of college freshmen worry about debt, but their financial attitudes and behaviors are counterproductive to a secure financial future, according to a new report.
Twenty-eight percent of college freshman have at least one credit card, according to “Money Matters on Campus: How Early Attitudes and Behaviors Affect the Financial Decisions of First-Year College Students,” a study conducted by EverFi and sponsored by Higher One, released Wednesday. Of these students, 35 percent make only the minimum credit card payment, while 8 percent have been late on a payment in the last year.
One-fourth of college freshmen surveyed have more than one credit card. Of these student credit card holders, nearly the same percentage have incurred credit card debt of more than $1,000.
Yet, among students with increasing student loan debt, there is an overriding attitude of, “It’s better to have something now and pay for it later.” They are also more likely to have bought something within the past year that they knew they couldn’t afford. Other prevailing attitudes:
· “Banks should not be surprised when students incur large debt.”
· “My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have.”
· “If I have money left over at the end of a pay period, I just have to spend it.”
Not surprisingly, 24 percent said they felt others would be horrified if they knew about their spending habits, the report found.
The study is based on a survey of 40,000 students attending four-year public and private universities in 43 states.
“This report sounds the alarm that institutions must augment current financial literacy education,” Director of Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy at Higher One Mary Johnson, said in a statement. “We need to ensure students entering college are given the right financial literacy education, tools and support to make sound financial decisions while in college and beyond.”
U.S. high schools are not making the grade when it comes to teaching financial literacy, according to the 2012 Survey of the States, a biannual report released by the Council on Economic Education. “Money Matters on Campus” makes a compelling case for a proactive approach to financial literacy based on existing financial attitudes and behaviors.
“Colleges and universities—especially those enrolling greater numbers of first-generation students than ever before—have an obligation to improve financial literacy and increase positive financial outcomes for our students,” said Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College in Illinois. “Our primary and time-honored concerns are to educate the whole person, which must include students’ financial health.”
College freshmen banking behavior does offer some encouragement, the report found. Eighty-six percent of respondents have a checking account, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) report visiting their bank’s website a couple of times a month and 55 percent visit their bank’s physical branch at least once a month. Students with a checking account were significantly more likely to report buying only things that they need, stick to a budget, pay off their monthly credit card balance, and pay their student loans on time.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.