An Analysis of Financial Well-Being Among Undergraduate Students at The University of Texas at Austin

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2020-05

Authors

Karkala, Sneha

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Abstract

The importance of developing positive financial behaviors early in life is being demonstrated every day as the economic fallout surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic heightens. Though a personal finance education does not solve for lack of income and systemic economic inequality, it does inform individuals on healthy spending and saving habits to help them weather through periods of economic duress. This thesis explores the importance of developing financial well-being among college students, specifically, undergraduate students of the University of Texas at Austin.

Recent college graduates are facing significantly different financial circumstances than previous generations. These circumstances have been shaped in large part by the rising cost of attending college and the associated student loan crisis. In 2019, total student loan debt in the United States passed $1.6 trillion and is expected to reach $2 trillion in the next two years. In addition to growing debt, graduates of the class of 2020 are also facing weary job prospects as employment opportunities dwindle amid the current pandemic.

To determine the state of financial well-being among UT-Austin undergraduates I conducted a study regarding students’ financial literacy and behaviors. Based on the study’s results, I outline the need for comprehensive personal finance initiatives and offer recommendations on how UT-Austin can improve the financial well-being of students. First, I address the importance of financial well-being and insights from the current economic climate. Next, I explain the current state of consumer financial well-being in the U.S. before diving into the results of my UT-Austin study. Then, I examine existing personal finance education initiatives from several organizations before finally proposing a plan for how UT-Austin can develop its own student financial well-being initiatives based existing models of success.

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