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3 Key Findings from 2021 Student Financial Experience Report

11/2/2021 7:00 PM

The results are in for TouchNet’s 2021 Student Financial Experience Report — it’s been quite a year since the inaugural survey and we’re excited to share our new research.

The goal of the survey is to track higher ed students’ use of and attitudes toward digital and mobile applications and to better understand how they handle financial obligations. By tracing new patterns and spotting emerging trends, we offer insights for practical use by colleges and universities to improve processes that foster student success inside and outside of the classroom.

In future years, we will begin to see which trends are permanent and which are temporary, and gain a clearer view of what is the “new normal.”

Some of What We Learned in 2021

1. Students approve of their college’s and university’s use of technology and they are engaging in the apps provided by them, proof that investing in changes to technology and service delivery is effective and appreciated.

  • 98% of students feel their institution’s use of technology is the same or better than last year
  • 92% use at least one app to interact with their college or university
  • 85% use their college’s or university’s app two to three times per week

2. While more students are becoming frequent users of banks’ apps to make payments, they have not yet transferred that habit into using their college’s and university’s apps to make payments.

  • 56% of students use digital payments as frequently as the previous year and 36% are using digital payments more often
  • 78% of students use mobile banking to pay bills or transfer money, up 5% from the previous year
  • 70% use mobile banking to make deposits, a 16% rise from the previous year
  • Only 10% of students use their school’s app to pay for tuition and online purchases, and 20% use it to pay for things on campus — both unchanged from last year

3. Students say they want to use an app to pay tuition and make on-campus purchases, but most are not aware that this option is available to them, and this may explain why they rate other payment methods as more ideal to use. These results suggest that increasing the use of college and university apps for payments requires increasing awareness of the apps’ availability, functionality, and ease-of-use.

  • 69% of students rate the ability to make and manage payments as an important feature of their college’s and university’s app, the highest rating of all abilities
  • Yet only 33% of students are aware of the ability to make payments with their college’s and university’s app
  • Students rate their college’s or university’s app as the third most ideal payment method for tuition (behind online banking and credit/debit cards) and fourth most ideal payment for everyday things (behind credit/debit cards, campus cards, and cash)

Download the Report to Learn More

You can gain more insights into students’ tech and money habits by downloading your free copy of the 2021 Student Financial Experience Report. Our second annual survey provides valuable research to inform higher ed professionals administering services across campus.

The 2021 Student Financial Experience Report gathered data from a ten-minute, online survey and utilized accepted standards of statistical practice. Respondents were required to be smartphone owners 18 or older enrolled at a U.S. college or university and not employed in a competitive industry. TouchNet will repeat the survey annually for our clients’ benefit.