A Picture of Student Bank Accounts on Average

The amount of money that a person has on hand is an important part of their financial wellbeing. Most experts recommend that a person try to set aside a rainy day fund of 3-6 months’ bills in case of emergency, including medical emergencies, family emergencies, or just losing a job.

But students tend to be in a very tricky financial situation. Most of the money that students would otherwise be able to put away goes toward long-term expenses, like student loans, and short-term necessary expenses, like textbooks and meal plans. What does that financial instability look like in real life? This information will give you everything you need to know.

General Survey Data

In a recent survey, OneClass asked 399 students from 82 schools, “How much money do you have in your bank account?” The question expressly covered both savings and checking accounts, meaning that in essence the question was asking how much money the student has on hand at this moment. These are the numbers from that question.

  • $0-$50: 13.5%
  • $51-$500: 22.8%
  • $501-$1,000: 10.5%
  • $1,001-$2,000: 10.3%
  • $2,001-$5,000: 20.1%
  • $5,001-$10,000: 13.0%
  • $10,000 or more: 9.8%

From there, it’s easier to get an idea of where students tend to fall. But just the numbers isn’t always helpful in painting a picture. How do these numbers reflect on the general student body?

Students Most Commonly Have $51-$500

The most common response out of all responses was the response of $51-$500, which made up 22.8% of all responses. That’s just over one out of five students. When you take into account all students that have under $500, you’re looking at 36.3% of students — over one third — that probably couldn’t cover a minor emergency.

A $5,000 Range Spans Most Responses

In some instances, the range of responses can inadvertently be a little misleading. Though all responses were similarly mapped, with only two selections carrying over 20% of responses, that doesn’t mean they’re all equal. Consider this: the second-to-highest group, which comprised all respondents that currently had $5,001-$10,000, covers $5,000. It also held 13.0% of respondents.

But here’s the thing. All selections lower than that — $0-$50, $51-$500, $501-$1,000, $1,001-$2,000, and $2,001-$5,000 — also cover $5,000. That’s 77.2% of students, or almost six times the amount of students who responded that they had $5,001-$10,000. That means answers were actually monumentally weighted toward less money, rather than more, and that’s an important facet to keep in mind.

Stereotypes Hold True With Some Majors

Many people think of Mathematics and Business majors as being the best-off, and in some ways, these numbers do reflect that stereotype. Both majors were most likely to respond that they had $2,001-$5,000. Arts and Education, often thought of as the least well-off, were most likely to respond that they had $0-$50. But Sciences and Engineering, both STEM fields, were most likely to respond having $51-$500. Clearly, individual majors matter more than general conceptual majors.

Third-Year Students Are Worst Off

When it comes to both the most common responses and the median responses, third-year students indicated having the least amount available. The most common response from third-year students was $51-$500, tied with second-year students, while the median response was $0-50, falling well below both first and second-year. It could be that mounting bills and higher expenses take a toll the longer you’re in college.


You can draw a number of conclusions from these numbers, albeit with a couple of caveats. Some of these numbers might not be as valid as numbers drawn over a long period of time. After all, students may have just paid bills or just received money from parents, grants, or student aid.

But regardless, it’s important to note that most students reported having a much lower amount than most experts recommend keeping as a safety net. No matter the conclusions you derive, it’s important to maintain financial wellness through all facets of life; it’s just that being in college may make that wellness more difficult.


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