Two-thirds of college students — roughly 13.3 million undergraduates — said the coronavirus crisis has changed how they feel about their financial future, according to WalletHub's recent 2020 College Student Financial survey.
"Students aren't getting the same bang for their — or their parents' — buck on tuition right now, and nearly 7 in 10 students believe the pandemic will make it harder for them to get a job," said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at the personal finance site.
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Even before the pandemic, young adults were increasingly dependent on their parents. About 6 in 10 parents with children between the ages of 18 and 29 said they have given their kids at least some financial help in the past year — primarily for recurring expenses such as tuition, rent, groceries or bills, according to the Pew Research Center.
WalletHub's survey of 300 college students in early August found that more than 2 in 5 — roughly 6.4 million — said they now get help from their parents with their credit card tab.
In 1980, about a third of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or even younger, according to a Pew analysis of Census Bureau data. By 2018, that number dropped to just a quarter.
The difference can be attributed, in part, to overwhelming student debt, which has become one of the major obstacles to financial independence for this generation.
Compared with earlier generations, more millennials have outstanding student loans, and the amount they owe tends to be greater, Pew also found.
These days, 7 in 10 college seniors graduate in the red, owing about $30,000 per borrower.
Going forward, student loan balances will likely rise further as more families must borrow money to bridge the growing gap between income and tuition expenses.
A 2020 high school graduate could face $37,200 in loans in pursuit of a degree at a public college or university, according to a separate NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
If they're headed to a private school, the tab could be much higher. Average annual tuition plus room and board at four-year, private universities was $49,870 for the 2019-20 academic year, compared to $21,950 at public institutions, according to the College Board.