2022 Student Financial Experience Report is now available!Download here

3 minute read

Habits Revealed in 2022 Student Financial Experience Report

11/9/2022 9:00:00 AM

With the third year of the Student Financial Experience Report, trends in student behaviors, expectations, and opinions of finance and mobile technology are becoming more clearly defined. Their responses on some key topics of payment apps and digital banking are falling into patterns that appear steady despite the unprecedented circumstances of the last couple years.

On other topics we see some sudden shifts that make sense when placed in context. The Report notes a sharp decrease in general device usage, which aligns with the recent cultural trend of reclaiming “normalcy” by getting offline and engaging in person more often.

Habits taking shape

Financial habits are built up over time. When comparing survey results from year to year, we can see how today’s higher ed students’ habits are taking shape.

The percentage of students using debit/credit cards to make purchases and pay bills has remained relatively steady from previous surveys, but we do see a slight uptick of students interacting with their bank through mobile banking. While this is no surprise, students’ use of ATMs to transfer money increased by 25 percent and their use of checks for purchases increased by 50 percent.

At the same time paper checks, which may seem outdated, are seeing a rise in use, newer alternative payment methods are increasing in popularity, too. The use of payment apps is rapidly increasing, as the number of students using Apple Pay sometimes or often for purchases increased 56 percent year over year and those using Google Pay sometimes or often for purchases doubled.

Habits you can influence

Overall, smartphone app usage remains high both inside and outside the classroom, as indicated by many measures in the Report. Yet regardless of the rising use of commercial apps for purchases and the continued popularity of mobile apps for banking, college/university apps are not experiencing the same increase in usage when it comes to paying for things.

In 2021 and 2022, the survey results on what students consider the most ideal method for making payments were the same: online banking is the ideal way to make tuition payments, while credit/debit card is the ideal way of paying for everyday things like food, events, or other purchases made on campus. A college/university app is the third most ideal payment method for tuition and fourth ideal payment method for everyday things, with little to no percentage change from last year to this year.

Comparing which payment method students think is ideal to which methods they actually know about and use reveals an important insight. Two-thirds of students say that making/managing payments is an important feature on a college/university app, but only 36 percent know about the payment function on the app, and a meager 23 percent use it.

Increasing the use of college and university apps for payments depends upon raising awareness of apps’ availability, functionality, and ease-of-use. Frequently marketing the app to students via email, campus flyers, and in-app communications will help them transfer their off-campus habits to on-campus activity. Creative ways to acculturate the campus to your app also include “Did you know?” ad campaigns at bus stops, how to video campaigns on social media, and showcasing how to use the app during orientation sessions to students and parents.

Download the Report to learn more

You can gain more insights into students’ tech and money habits by downloading your free copy of the 2022 Student Financial Experience Report. Our third annual survey provides valuable research to inform higher ed professionals administering services across campus.

The 2022 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.