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Survey Finds Students Lacking In Money Management Savvy

[Tuesday, September 20th, 2016]

A recent survey on students and personal finance found that while many students are confident that they understand the basics of how finances work, they don’t think they do a good job of managing their money, and they lack understanding of how credit works.

The US Bank Student and Personal Finance Study asked college students ages 18 to 30 about their attitudes and philosophies toward money and financial literacy. The results showed that 42% felt they understood the basic facts of how checking and saving accounts operate, and 39% felt they knew how to save money. Where they fell short was in managing that money, and having a solid grasp of credit principles.

Investing and saving are weak spots for students

Only 15% of students said they understood how to invest money, and 11% said they were confident about saving for retirement. In general, they struggle with money management: 60% said they are “barely keeping up” when it comes to managing their day-to-day finances.

There were some differences between the genders as well. Men were more likely to say they were more comfortable with their money skills, and that they are prepared to meet their financial goals, describing themselves as “savers,” while women were more likely to describe themselves as “spenders” and say they weren’t on track to meet financial goals.

Misconceptions about credit

Students incorrectly thought that having too many credit cards could have a negative impact on their credit score. Fifty-four percent of respondents believed that this was true. Forty-four percent thought that they could build a good credit score by using debit cards and writing checks. Many didn’t know what they credit score was; only 46% said they’d ever checked their credit scores.

Robyn Gilson, a financial education coach at US Bank, said that while students generally have a good grasp of basics, “when the conversation shifts to credit and investing, the grades drop.” Gilson stressed the importance of knowing how to use credit and make investments from a young age. “We want students to know it’s not too early to understand credit or how to make solid financial investments for their futures.”


The survey included answers from 1,614 high school seniors and college undergraduates from age 18 to 30 and was conducted in May 2016.

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