College Students’ Spending Habits: Survey Results

Despite the stereotype of the “broke college student”—the young adult who spends so much money on tuition and books that they’re reduced to a diet of ramen and tap water—this demographic actually has a considerable amount of spending power, and many businesses and industries have the potential to capitalize on this valuable consumer base. The question is, however, where are college students getting their money and—more importantly—where are they spending it?

Study Breaks College Media recently teamed up with its sister company, Shweiki Media Printing Company, and surveyed 500+ college students on their spending habits. From restaurants and bars to marijuana and more, we found out what students are spending their money on—and, in many cases, how much they’re spending.

The results–some of which went on to be featured in this eMarketer article–are below…

 

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Students’ Main Source of Income:

-45% Parents

-40% Job

-15% Loans

Students’ Credit Card Preference:

-71% Visa

-11% MasterCard

-6% Discover

-3% American Express

-9% None

How Much Money Students Are Spending:

-73% of students are spending $6,000 or more each year on basic living expenses (groceries, rent, utilities, gas); more specifically, 14% spend $18,000 or more.

-66% of students are spending $1,200 or more each year on entertainment (bars, restaurants, live music, media, alcohol, marijuana, etc.); more specifically, 21% spend $3,000 or more, and 6% spend $6,000 or more. 

Where and How Students Are Spending Their Money:

-99% of students spend money each month at restaurants; more specifically, 66% of students are spending $50 or more.

-87% of students spend money each year on trips; more specifically, 38% spend $500 or more.

-76% of students spend money each month on beauty.

-70% of students spend money each month at bars.

-70% of students spend money each month on fashion.

-60% of students spend money each month on electronics.

-59% of students spend money each month on live music.

-57% of students spend money each month on media (books, magazines, apps).

-38% of students spend money each month on off-campus gyms and fitness; more specifically, 11% are spending $50 or more.

Regarding Marijuana:

-16% of college students surveyed admit to spending money on marijuana every month. And, more specifically, 10% of surveyed students claim to spend $300 or more per year, and 1% admit to spending at least $6,000 per year.

To put these numbers in perspective…

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21.8 million students were expected to attend college in fall of 2013. This means, when the results of this survey are applied:

-As 66% of students are spending $1,200 or more each year on entertainment (bars, restaurants, live music, media, alcohol, marijuana, etc.), about 14.39 million students are spending that much, which amounts to at least $17.26  billion being spent on entertainment by students each year.

-3,488,000 students spend money on marijuana.

-2,180,000 students are spending $300 or more per year on marijuana—which comes to at least $654 million being spent annually by students on marijuana.

Survey Notes:

-Due to the nature of this survey and students’ likely hesitance to admit to spending money on marijuana—particularly when being asked to provide their email address—the results for this particular question are expected to be on the low side of the spectrum.

-For a survey of 508 people for a population of 21,800,000, there is a 99% confidence level with a +/- 5.7% error level. This means that if the survey were to be conducted 100 times, 99 times out of 100, the results would be within +/- 5.7% of the results of the first survey. (For info on how this was calculated, please see custominsight.com.)

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