College students facing financial burdens during pandemic

Photo Courtesy | John Swanson
Students are facing tough decisions when it comes to affording higher education

A survey conducted by Wallethub shows how much students have been impacted financially in recent months.

With the Covid-19 pandemic changing the ways classes are run and campus life looks, financial worries are also on the minds of college students this year.

Across the nation college students are asking for reduced tuition and cuts to student fees as many universities have opted for online only classes this semester. Among one of the many debates regarding higher education is whether students should have to pay the same price for online learning.

WalletHub recently conducted a survey asking how students view their financial literacy and how much they are worried about their future financially.

The 2020 College Student Financial Survey found that about two-thirds of students (13.3 million) said the pandemic has changed the way they view their financial future. With that, more students felt as though their knowledge of personal finance has improved this year.

Jill Gonzalez, an analysist at WalletHub, addressed how she thinks the pandemic will affect the outcome of students attending universities versus community colleges in the future.

“As more and more families are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges will start being more attractive to students,” Gonzalez said. “This will continue in the years to come, especially considering it will be a while before the economy picks up again.”

The survey also showed that because of the pandemic, 67 percent of students have changed the way they view education. This leads to questions about whether more students will want to obtain online degrees or rethink higher education in general.

“I don’t think students will want to give up pursuing higher education,” Gonzalez said, “However, they might be more oriented towards online learning, and perhaps also focus more on getting a job before graduating.”

When it comes to the job market, the survey found that nearly seven out of ten students think it will be harder to find a job now than in previous years.

“The job market has clearly been hit hard, and even though it will eventually recover, the way people work will change,” Gonzalez said.

If asked whether this will lead to students choosing higher in-demand majors, Gonzalez thinks the, “fear of being unemployed” will likely lead to students choosing majors that will have more job availability.

Gonzalez mentioned that some of the industries that have been the least affected by the pandemic include insurance and IT.

As far as financial literacy goes, the survey found that students from high-income households generally have a higher financial literacy over students from medium-income households.

When asked why she thinks this is, Gonzalez said, “It could be that students who come from high income households learn more about managing money from their parents.”

“Financial literacy gets its start in the family, when children observe their parents saving and investing habits.”

Though the survey showed that more students say their financial literacy has improved including how they save money, view the economy and navigate employment since last year, Gonzalez gave some tips on how to improve one’s knowledge of their financial resources.

“Financial literacy is key, not only when it comes to affording college, but also later in life,” Gonzalez said.

“To improve their financial knowledge students should start reading about personal finance and listening to financial podcasts.”

Gonzalez also recommended following financial experts on social media and practicing maintaining a budget which will help with tracking how much they spend and will let them save money for various goals.

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