How Will Coronavirus Impact Students’ Finances?

While nearly all Americans have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is some way, U.S. college students have been uniquely impacted. Not only have school closures meant the cancelation of graduation ceremonies but many of those who had been living on-campus were forced to vacate their homes as the virus spread. Now a new survey from the personal finance site WalletHub has sought to find some of the other ways that the coronavirus has impacted current college students, including what takeaways and predictions they have going forward.

Starting with direct impacts, 56% of students surveyed say that their plans for a summer job have been altered because of the pandemic. Meanwhile 30% report missing a bill payment since the outbreak ramped up. However it’s unclear what specific circumstance may have led to these skipped payments.

Interestingly it seems that the crisis has instilled some financial lessons in student respondents. For example 52% cited the need for an emergency fund as their top financial takeaway from this event. Similarly 14% said that not going into debt was the biggest lesson this pandemic has taught them. Meanwhile 43% state that they intend to spend less on non-essential items than they did before COVID-19.

In terms of predictions, 55% of respondents expected that it would now be more difficult for students to get approved for credit cards. At the same time 42% believe that credit cards will gain importance in a post-pandemic world with 36% saying the same of credit scores. As for what the coronavirus will mean for their degrees, one-fifth of students said they think that a college education will mean less going forward while 30% believe that college will prove even more important.

With the tough spot that many students now find themselves, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez offered some advice, noting, “There are three things students should focus on right now: continuing to learn, job hunting and building credit. Just because schools are closed does not mean your brain has to be, too. The internet is still open, and you could always crack open a book, so use the time to make yourself a more marketable job candidate.” Gonzalez went on to discuss the importance of building credit, adding, “This might not be as obvious, but students who use the coronavirus downtime to begin building their credit will be ahead of the game when the economy reopens. All you really have to do is apply for a starter credit card and lock it in a drawer, and you’ll gradually build credit.”

For all of the uncertainty that faces the vast majority of Americans, college students may have to endure even more. Whether they’re graduating into an upheaved job market or waiting to learn when they’ll be able to return next semester, there’s no doubt that there are many personal and financial questions currently still up in the air. If there’s any silver lining, it seems that this pandemic has inspired these students to think more seriously about managing their money — something that will surely help them succeed once all of this is finally over.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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