Interesting Information About Colleges’ Impact on Student Bank Accounts

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College financial aid and general college financial wellness has recently become a hot topic in both political and social circles. Although it’s definitely been an important topic for many years, mounting college costs and overall federal and private college debt has recently brought this question into the limelight. But how much do you actually know about the topic? With this information from a recent survey by OneClass, you might be able to learn a bit about how that information transfers into real life.

Just by the Numbers

With this survey, OneClass asked one question: “How much money is in your bank account right now?” The question included both saving and checking accounts to better understand students’ total liquid assets. Here are the total responses:

  • $0-$50: 13.5%
  • $51-$500: 22.8%
  • $501-$1,000: 10.5%
  • $1,001-$2,000: 10.3%
  • $2,001-$5,000: 20.1%
  • $5,001-$10,000: 13%
  • $10,001 or more: 9.8% 

But those numbers are just that: numbers. It can be hard to get an understanding of what those numbers mean for students. Here are just a few of the ways this manifests.

It’s Most Common for Students to Have $50-$500 on Hand

Of all responses, the most common response, with 22.8% of responses, was $51-$500. Though some responses, including the lowest tier, may simply be because of bad timing — for example, having just paid rent or a large chunk of student loans — this extremely common response showcases the fact that students tend toward having smaller amounts of money.

Interestingly enough, the second-most-common response, with 20.1% of responses, was $2,001-$5,000. Although this number isn’t exactly sitting pretty, it’s at least enough to cover an unexpected emergency expense. The fact that the two most common responses are so different from each other also shows the discrepancy in student finances.

Nearly Half of All Students Have Less Than $1,000 Right Now

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An interesting thing to note from the study is overarching trends, which can be just as important as individual groups. In all, 46.8% of respondents said that they had $1,000 or less at the time of taking the study. That’s a surprisingly large group of people with a surprisingly small amount of money.

There are a few other overarching conclusions to note. For example, 77.2% of people noted that they had $5,000 or less, which spans the same amount of money as the 13% of people who said that they had $5,001-$10,000. That’s nearly six times the amount of people on the lower end of the spectrum.

Only Around a Quarter of Students Have a Thorough Emergency Fund

Most experts suggest that adults maintain an “emergency fund,” also referred to as a “rainy day fund,” that encompasses 3-6 months’ worth of bills. That’s enough to cover a period of unemployment with little to no income, which may be caused by an emergency or just by unexpected unemployment. Although that number can vary dramatically from person to person, it’s common for that number to be at least over $5,000.

However, in this study, a very small number of people reported having more than $5,000. Only 22.8% of people responded that they had $5,001-$10,000 or $10,001+. Because the study took into account both saving and checking accounts, it’s fair to assume that these students don’t have enough to properly cover an extended emergency if one were to come their way.


This is just one piece in the larger puzzle that is student financial issues. Although it doesn’t address debt, which is probably the most hotly debated student financial problem of the current era, it does address the way that the debt burden impacts students’ current financial state. That’s something that impacts students in a much more real and immediate sense. Take these responses into account when you’re considering student financial states, and you’ll understand a little more about how students function right now.

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About the Author

Tobias Simmons is a personal finance blogger born in Ontario and based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He's no Doctor of Science or financial expert but is a self-taught student giving advice for the average peer.