2020 Student Money Survey & Best Cards for Grads – WalletHub

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With graduation season upon us and most students getting ready for a virtual graduation ceremony, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released a nationally representative Student Money Survey, which found that roughly 20% of students think a college education is less important due to COVID-19.

The survey also found that 43% of students think credit cards will be more important after the pandemic and 36% feel the same way about credit scores, so WalletHub’s editors also released their picks for the Best Credit Cards for 2020 Graduates to help new college and high school grads build credit and maximize savings.

Below, you can find a handful of additional highlights, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

  • 30% of students have missed a bill payment since the pandemic began.
  • COVID-19 has changed almost 56% of students’ plans for summer jobs.
  • 35% of students would rather risk COVID-19 on campus than self-isolate at their parents’ house.
  • Having emergency savings (52%) is the most important financial lesson students have learned from the pandemic, followed by having a steady job (20%) and not going into debt (14%).
  • The best credit cards for 2020 graduates are the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students (limited credit & EDU email), the Petal Visa Credit Card (limited credit & no EDU email), and the Capital One Secured Mastercard (damaged credit).

Q&A with WalletHub

Is college education still important to pursue?

“Around 1 in 5 students think college is less important because of the coronavirus pandemic, but I could not disagree more. It is far more important to pursue higher education now than it was before the coronavirus shook up our lives because this ordeal is only accelerating the transition to a digital economy. But college hasn’t always been for everyone, and that will continue to be the case. The pandemic has just made it more obvious to a lot of people that other options are out there,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “One likely byproduct of the pandemic is a shift in the types of degrees people pursue, away from those feeding into low-paying positions and toward those with a clear path to steady employment and a solid paycheck. We can expect students to focus more on value when making educational decisions, from what they study to where they attend school.”

Is government doing enough to help students right now?

“Students are suffering during the coronavirus pandemic just like everyone else. Roughly 56% of students say they’re rethinking their summer jobs, and 30% of students report having missed a payment already. But the best thing government can do for students is beat the coronavirus because that would allow schools to reopen and employers to start hiring again,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “If government officials do not contain the coronavirus soon, the financial viability of a lot of colleges and universities, both public and private, will become a major question mark. Many states would not be able to handle that.”

What advice do you have for students right now?

“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. On that note, students should focus on actually finding the right job, too. Don’t use the current situation as an excuse to wait because there still are lots of companies hiring,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “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.”

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