The coronavirus pandemic has done a number on the U.S. economy, making it more challenging for millions to pay their credit card and other bills on time, let alone put food on the table. But according to a new survey by AIG Retirement Services and EVERFI, college students are actually displaying more responsible credit use now than before, despite (or maybe because of) the pandemic.

Key Takeaways

  • A newly released survey by AIG and EVERFI reports that college students have become more mindful of their money management.
  • One reason may be the financial stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • More students say they're paying their credit card bills on time and always paying more than the minimum due.

Is Anxiety Driving Better Financial Behaviors?

Millions of families across the country have felt the pressure of the pandemic and ensuing economic downturn. As a result, roughly a third of college students have seen more financial stress placed on their families, and a little more than four in 10 feel more anxious about the school year, according to the survey.

At the same time, more college students are taking steps to use credit wisely and avoid the unique dangers that come with credit card debt. 

How Students Say They're Handling Their Finances
  2019-20 Students 2020-21 Students
Stop spending when cash is running low 64% 75%
Check their bank account regularly 65% 72%
Always pay more than the minimum on their credit card 42% 57%
Plan to create a budget to track spending in the next year 48% 53%
Plan to pay their credit card bill on time in the next year 60% 71%

Plan to pay their entire bill each month in the next year

52% 61%
Source: AIG Retirement Services and EVERFI survey

Despite a greater number of students exhibiting positive financial behaviors, they remain concerned about their financial situation. Thirty-eight percent are worried about having enough money to last the semester, for instance. Roughly the same number of respondents admitted they would not be able to afford to pay for a major unexpected expense. 

The survey was conducted from Aug. 28 to Sept. 28, 2020, and included 7,099 college students from 64 educational institutions in 26 states.