College Students Share Encouraging Financial Report Cards

New data on college students' financial outlooks finds many silver linings in a cloudy economic backdrop.

Stacks of coins and piggy bank for college students with graduation caps
(Image credit: Getty Images)

College students have faced financial headwinds lately, from lingering inflation to the overturning of President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Despite these concerns, a new survey from WalletHub shows that the kids might actually be alright as they head into the new school year.

College students see inflation as tough life lesson

WalletHub's 2023 College Student Financial Survey asked 200 representative college students to share the current state of their finances. The biggest shared concern was, unsurprisingly, inflation.

In WalletHub’s data, more than 9 in 10 students said inflation has created concerns about their financial future. However, 79% of college students also said their financial literacy improved due to inflation. 

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Think of it as a glass half full moment, where current financial hardships help prepare an entire generation of students to weather future economic struggles.

Students still think loan debt is worth it

The next elephant in the room is student debt. We’ve spilled a lot of ink here at Kiplinger about the student loan debt forgiveness battle playing out in the political and legal arenas. 

Despite all the negative press around college affordability and debt burdens, more than 3 in 4 student respondents in WalletHub's survey said it’s worth going into debt to pay for college. One hopes they're also exhausting all of their scholarship opportunities before taking on any loans, however. 

Moving to other types of debt, 54% of students reported receiving parental help paying their credit card bills, which is 43% higher than last year’s mark. But 83% of respondents expressed confidence that their parents would approve of their student credit card purchases, further underscoring a sense of financial discipline among this crop of students.

A promising financial report card

There are plenty of reasons for optimism in the rest of the survey. 83% of students said they feel prepared to be on their own financially. 70% consider themselves to be a “saver,” compared to 30% who consider themselves to be a “spender.” 

Finally, the respondents give their personal finances the following grades: 

  • "A": 32%
  • "B": 35%
  • "C": 22%
  • "D": 10%
  • "F": 1%

Overall, 67% of WalletHub survey respondents considered their personal finances worthy of at least an "A" or "B"  grade. While it could be classic overconfidence, it's encouraging to see these students continue the Gen Z trend of savvy money management. 

The remaining 33% shouldn't worry — there's plenty of time to turn the ship around as you prepare to enter the working world. Consider checking our college tips section as a jumping off point to build up your financial skills and confidence.

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Ben Demers
Audience Engagement Manager,

Ben Demers manages digital content and engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a range of personal finance articles, e-newsletters, social media, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behavior, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.