New Citi/Seventeen Survey: College Students Take Control of Their Financial Futures

Nearly 4 out of 5 college students are working while attending school, and the majority are using their own money to fund college-related expenses

Money-related issues top their list of major concerns; 61% think college life is more expensive than they expected

INFOGRAPHIC: College Students Take Control of Their Financial Futures, Reveals New Citi/Seventeen Survey. (Graphic: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--Citi and Seventeen Magazine today released findings from the 2013 College Student Pulse, a national survey of over 1,000 high school seniors and college students exploring the way students save, spend, and manage the finances of college life. The survey found that students are taking an active role in funding and managing the costs of college, with nearly 4 in 5 students working their way through school, and the majority using their own money for a number of college expenses.

Millennials and Their Money: How They Pay for College Life

  • Nearly 4 out of 5 college students are working while attending school, with the average student working 19 hours per week during the school year.
  • The majority of students (62%) have set a budget to keep track of their expenses, and 77% say they pay their own credit card bills.
  • Students are footing the bill for a number of their own college-related expenses:
Expense % of students who say % of students who say
they’re responsible for

their PARENTS are responsible for

      the cost    

the cost

Spending money     80%     15%
Clothing     71%     24%
Travel/transportation to and from school     59%     29%
Books     45%     25%
Computer/laptop purchase     45%     31%
Smartphone/phone purchase     45%     43%
Food     41%     35%
  • The only expense that parents are significantly more likely to pay is students’ monthly cell phone bills. 60% of students say that their parents pay their monthly cell phone bills, vs. 35% of students who pay it themselves.
  • The average student spends $513 on back-to-school shopping, and male students spend an average of $246 more than female students. College freshmen spend the most, spending an average of $678 on back-to-school purchases.
  • A number of different sources fund tuition and housing:
    • When asked who is responsible for covering the cost of tuition, 22% of students say that their parents pay; 18% of students pay it themselves; 16% say that a scholarship covers the cost; and 41% say that financial aid funds their tuition costs.
    • When asked who is responsible for covering the cost of housing, 30% of students say their parents pay; 31% students of students pay it themselves; 5% say that a scholarship covers the cost; and 15% say that financial aid funds their housing costs.

Students Grapple with New Financial Realities

  • The cost of college life takes students by surprise – 61% say that college is more expensive than they thought it would be.
  • Money-related issues top students’ list of biggest concerns while in school, above making friends (21%) and planning for professional/graduate school (41%):

1. Getting a good paying job when they graduate (63%)

2. Getting good grades (61%)

3. Paying tuition bills (53%)

4. The amount of student loan debt they owe (47%)

5. Being able to save (46%)

  • College choice is largely driven by money: 77% say that money played an important role in where they decided to apply to/attend college, and one-third said that money was the single most important factor in determining where they enrolled.

College Cost-Cutting: How Students Manage the Expenses of College Life

  • The majority of students are using a variety of ways to cut costs, and are either doing or planning to do the following to trim expenses while in school: Using student discounts (95%), buying used books (94%), grocery shopping instead of eating out (88%), using online coupons/discounts (81%), sharing housing (76%), walking/biking vs. using a car (72%), renting textbooks (72%), and working longer hours to make ends meet (71%).
  • Students use a variety of financial products and tools to manage their finances: 69% have a checking account, 67% have a savings account and 31% have a credit card. Only 1 in 5 have a credit card when they start college, but by the time they are seniors, over half (55%) have one. 59% of students manage their finances online via desktop or laptop, and another 41% are managing their accounts via mobile device.
  • College students are significantly more likely than the general population of smartphone and tablet users* to use mobile technology to manage their finances. Students are more than three times more likely than the general population to use their smartphones to make a mobile check deposit, more than twice as likely to make mobile-to-mobile payments, and almost three times as likely to use mobile wallet technology to make purchases.

*According to results of the 3Q 2012 Citi Economic Pulse.

Despite Expenses and Feeling Prepared for the Workforce, Students Plan to Return to School After Graduation

  • 83% of students are confident that they will be well-prepared for success in the workforce when they graduate from college, yet 60% plan to return to school to pursue a graduate or professional degree. Only 26% do not plan to continue their education and will get a full-time job.
  • Ultimately, 94% of students think that college will end up being a good investment.

“Having come of age during the Great Recession, many of today’s students have experienced a financial wake-up call that’s prompting them to seek ways to take control of their financial future while they’re still in school,” said Linda Descano, CFA®, Managing Director and Head of Content and Social for North America Marketing at Citi, and President and CEO of Citi’s Women & Co. “This study has given us a glimpse into how students are balancing the responsibilities of work, studies, and their finances to achieve success – and has provided us with the insights that we need to offer financial and professional resources that help them progress towards their goals.”

"This generation is smarter than ever about making and managing their money," says Ann Shoket, Editor in Chief of Seventeen. "The responsibility they take on in college is setting them up for a strong financial future."

For tips on how to cut costs on school expenses, save for college, and manage the finances of college life, visit Citi’s Back to School guide on Women & Co., Citi’s personal finance resource for women. For detailed results from the 2013 College Student Pulse, visit Citi’s Women & Co. blog and

The online resources available at Citi’s Women & Co. are one part of a comprehensive suite of products and online services provided by Citi to help parents and students manage the finances of college life. Citi offers a Citibank® Student Checking Account that has no monthly service fees while the student is enrolled in an eligible accredited institution, as well as no Citibank fee for use of non-Citibank ATMs across the country. The Citi Forward® Card enables college students to earn ThankYou® Points for doing simple things that lead to good credit, like paying on time and staying under your limit. Students can also reduce their APR (Annual Percentage Rate) by 0.25% when they make a purchase, stay under their credit limit and pay on time for 3 consecutive billing cycles – and they can do this a maximum of 8 times up to a 2% APR reduction. At the ThankYou Rewards Back-to-School shop at, students can redeem ThankYou Points earned with their Citi Forward Card for backpacks, computers and more.

Survey methodology:

This online survey was conducted by YouGov among 1008 high school seniors and college students between July 11 and July 18, 2013. The overall margin of sampling error is ±3.00% for the main sample and is higher among subgroups.

Media Contacts:

To schedule an interview with Linda Descano, CFA® of Citi, please contact Jennifer Kohanim of FleishmanHillard at 212-453-2116 and or Andrew Brent of Citi at 212.559.1299 and To schedule an interview with Seventeen, please contact Randi Friedman of Hearst Magazines at 212.649.2578 or

About Women & Co.

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.’s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures. Twitter: @WomenandCo

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

About Seventeen

Seventeen ( is the largest monthly teen magazine, reaching more than 12 million readers in print every month. For almost 70 years, Seventeen has helped generations of girls navigate the tricky terrain of adolescence, giving them the confidence they need to become strong, self-assured young women. Never losing sight of the importance of delivering her world her way; Seventeen is a leader on the digital front with—the largest teen magazine website, the Seventeen Shopping Insider app for her iPhone and Droid as well as with the monthly edition of the magazine on the iPad. Seventeen continues the conversation on social platforms, connecting with millions of girls via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

In addition to its U.S. flagship, Seventeen publishes 7 editions around the world. Seventeen is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation, one of the nation's largest diversified media and information companies. With 20 titles in the U.S., Hearst is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in terms of total paid circulation (ABC 2012) and reaches 83 million adults (Fall 2012 MRI gfk). Follow Seventeen on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.


Jennifer Kohanim, 212-453-2116
Andrew Brent, 212-559-1299
Hearst Magazines
Randi Friedman, 212-649-2578


Jennifer Kohanim, 212-453-2116
Andrew Brent, 212-559-1299
Hearst Magazines
Randi Friedman, 212-649-2578