Although the cost of attending college has increased in recent years, a new study from Bank of America and USA Today found that college-aged millennials are more optimistic about the future than they have been in decades.
“A large majority (80 percent) of the 1,000 millennials ages 18-34 surveyed across the country believe they will be better off or the same as their parents and two-thirds say they have good financial habits,” according to the report.
The report indicates that millennials are doing more to be financially responsible in the short term, dodging pitfalls that have trapped young adults in the past, such as credit card debt and spending more than they earn.
“Seventy-four percent of millennials say they worry about their financial situation, and as a result, many are exhibiting good financial behavior to help them get on track in the short term,” according to the report. “For example, nearly half (49 percent) pay off their credit card debt in full each month and 35 percent report only carrying cash to limit how much they spend.”
The study also shows that millennial college students are less interested in doing jobs with high salaries that they will not enjoy, as opposed to jobs with lower salaries but suits their interests.
“Consistent with the public’s overall perception of millennials…respondents have a hopeful, if not slightly idealist, view of their futures; only four in ten believe that salary is more important than doing what you love,” according to the report.
There report also indicates that more college students and graduates are receiving financial support from their families. This support is not exclusively going to those who have moved back home, however, as many graduates making upwards of $75,000 still receive some financial aid from their parents.
“While seeking financial assistance from relatives a generation ago might have been seen as an embarrassment, it now appears to be par for the course…55 percent of those who receive financial help say they discuss it openly and honestly with friends,” the report says. “Many respondents making more than $75,000 per year indicated they have received financial assistance as well.”
One reason for the change in culture about seeking and receiving help after graduation is the changing expectations of millennials, college graduates or otherwise. The standards for success have been altered to a degree, to focus on one’s ability to do certain things with friends or family rather than achieve more traditional milestones like a house or starting a family.
“Many think having ‘made it’ is being able to afford things like travel and treating friends and family (70 percent) vs. having their dream home (40 percent),” according to the report.
Overall, the report indicates that getting a college degree remains a strong choice for those seeking to become financially independent and develop responsible finances.
“Seventy three percent of those with a degree say they are currently financially independent, compared to 56 percent of those without,” the report says. “Two-thirds of college graduates say they are in good shape financially, while only 30 percent of non-college grads would agree.”