Personal Finance

The Impact of College on Students’ Bank Accounts

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In the long term, college is an incredibly expensive venture. Many people spend decades paying off student debts, and the delinquency rate, especially in very low-income areas, can be extraordinarily high. But what about in the short term? It’s important to look at both, whether you’re just interested in the general financial state of the nation or you’re considering going into college yourself. With this information about how much money students have in their bank accounts based on a study from OneClass, you’ll have a better understanding of the whole subject.

It’s Most Common for Students to Have $51-$500 in Their Bank Accounts

Of all the responses, the most common response was that a student had $51-$500 currently in their bank account. 22.8% of people, which is just under a quarter, indicated their current bank account balance within this $450 segment. When trying to determine financial wellness in the United States, the Federal Reserve asks how someone would cover a $400 expense, which means that a significant amount of students in the United States right now would only barely be able to cover that low number.

Over 50% of Students Have Less Than $2,000

Expanding further, 57.1% of people responded that they had $2,000 or less in the bank at this moment. Note that most experts recommend having an “emergency fund” available in a savings account that covers 3-6 months of expenses in case something significant happens. If a student is paying for their own room and board, it’s likely that $2,000 barely covers three months of expenses, and this number includes both checking and savings accounts.

Income Disparity Is Higher Than the Numbers Might Make You Think

When you look at the numbers, you’ll note that most categories have around 10% of responses, with only two categories coming in over 20%. That might make you think that the income is spread out rather evenly. But in fact, these categories may be a little misguiding.

13.5% of respondents, which is just over 50, indicated that they were in the lowest category. A very similar amount, 13.0%, responded in the second to highest category. But the lowest category, $0-$50, covers only $50, while the second highest, $5,001-$10,000, covers $5,000. That means the income disparity is actually heavily weighted toward students with very low amounts of money.

Majors Matter, But Barriers Matter Too

Many people discuss how a different major may make an impact on how much money you have, and that hypothesis seems to hold up with this information. Mathematics and Business majors were by far the most likely to have more money than other majors. Both majors most commonly responded that they had $2,001-$5000, with all others responding $500 or less.

But this doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Both majors are known for being expensive and difficult, which means that those who are already well-off may just be more likely to move into these majors.

You Might Find Your Bank Account Running Dryer Through the Years

Overall, third-year students actually responded that they had lower bank account balances. Most commonly, third-year students reported having between $51-$500, with the median number being even lower at $0-$50. In many ways, this makes sense; the more time you spend in college racking up debt, the less money you’re likely to have saved up and available.


It’s hard to avoid the fact that college is incredibly expensive and difficult to get through. In fact, it’s a pretty well-known concept. But if you’re willing to put in the work, you can at least learn what type of financial future awaits you while you’re in college. Plus, with this knowledge, you can set yourself up for success before you ever get into college, so you’re more likely to get out with at least some money in your savings account.

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