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More college students using credit cards responsibly, despite COVID

A new study shows many more 2020-2021 students are making their card payments on time and in full


While the pandemic has triggered anxiety among college students about their studies and their families’ finances, more of them are showing positive credit behaviors, according to a new poll.

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This year’s college students entered their fall semesters in a much different world from last year’s, and some effects – positive ones – are showing up in students’ credit card behaviors and plans.

College students' financial habits in the pandemic

In a new poll by AIG and EVERFI, more than four in 10 U.S. 2020-2021 college students (41%) reported feeling more anxious about the current school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with almost a third (32%) specifically indicating it has placed extra financial stress on their family.

Either despite this or as a result of it, a larger share of this year’s students are exhibiting positive credit card behaviors and plans, and other constructive financial habits, than reported by last year’s 2019-2020 students.

For instance, while 42% of students a year ago said they were paying more than the required minimum on their credit cards every month, 57% report they are doing so this year.

See related: How to save money for college in the pandemic

Plans for the coming year are also in their focus, with 71% of this year’s students saying they plan to make every card payment on time in the next year, and 61% indicating they plan to pay off their full balance every month. Last year, only 60% and 52%, respectively, reported the same.

Beyond card management, three-quarters of this year’s students (75%) said they currently stop spending when their cash is running low. That’s compared to 64% indicating this last year. And a similar share (72%) said they are checking their bank balances regularly, while only 65% of the previous year’s students reported this.

AIG and EVERFI’s survey was fielded from late August through late September 2020, among a nationally representative sample of almost 7,100 U.S. college students. Results were released Nov. 11.

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