If you’re interested in college, you probably already know that it’s likely going to be very expensive. Although it’s possible to find scholarships and even get grants for housing, transportation, and food, it’s not guaranteed, and it’s rare to get out of college with no debt at all. That means many college students end up living paycheck to paycheck, which can be a pretty significant burden. If you want to learn more about how college might impact your finances, you might want to ask one simple question: How much money do students tend to have in their bank accounts?
Most Students Have Less Than $2,000 Right Now
When it comes to the basic numbers, 57.1% of respondents indicated that they had less than $2,000 in their bank accounts. As asked by OneClass, this question regarded both checking and savings accounts, which means that these students had less than $2,000 in available funds overall.
That’s an extremely low number — it’s definitely less than the suggested “emergency fund” of 3-6 months’ worth of bills. In some areas, it might be as small as one months’ worth of bills. Because the survey covered 82 schools, it’s impossible to say how dire these students’ situations are, but regardless of the area, it’s an unfortunate response.
A Substantial Amount of Students Have Less Than $500
Though it may come as a surprise that over half of all students have less than $2,000, the numbers get even more dire when you break them down further. 13.5% of respondents indicated that they had $0-$50, and 22.8% responded $51-$500.
That’s 36.3% of students surveyed — over one third — who indicated that they had less than $500. $500 is barely enough to cover an emergency car repair, and that’s cause for alarm. And when juxtaposed with the students who indicated having $2,000 or less, it’s even more telling. $500 is 25% of $2,000, but in fact, 63.6% of that body actually indicated having $500 or less.
Mathematics and Business Majors Tend to Be More Well-Off
In a result that probably won’t surprise you, Mathematics and Business majors reported the highest average amount when compared to other majors. Both majors most commonly reported having $2,001-$5,000.
When it comes to the median amount, the results are even more drastic, as Mathematics majors jump to $10,000 or more and Business majors move up to $5,001-$10,000. Because Mathematics and Business majors have a reputation for being more expensive, it may be that more well-off people move into those majors, causing those majors to report better finances.
Third-Year Students Are the Worst Off Overall
Overall, people’s finances tend to worsen as they continue college. First-year students most commonly reported having $2,001-$5,000, while second and third-year students both most commonly reported having $51-$500.
When moving to the median responses, second-year and first-year actually switched places — second-year respondents indicated a median amount of $1,001-$2,000, and first-year students replied with a median of $501-$1,000. But third-year students actually had a worse median response, with a median response of $0-$50.
You can’t draw any super definitive conclusions from just these numbers. There are of course plenty of extenuating factors that might play into these numbers. Maybe a student just received a grant, or maybe they just paid bills. But the truth is, when you look at the overarching picture, it’s much easier to see the wealth disparity.
Of the 399 students who responded, less than 100 had more than $5,000 available, which is likely the amount that one should have in case of emergencies. That’s a big deal. Whether you’re planning on going into college, you’re in college right now, or you just want to keep an eye on overarching financial trends, these are numbers you should definitely pay attention to.