Avoiding credit card debt is a critical component to smartly managing your money. Yet for some college students, it’s already too late. According to a report from EVERFI and AIG, a third of college kids are in the red on their cards.
The survey of more than 30,000 college students from 440-plus schools found that 36 percent have at least $1,000 in credit card debt. The report also showed that the number of college students paying off their cards each month is on a significant decline. In 2012, 79 percent of college students said they pay off their credit card balance in full. In 2019, just 51 percent of college kids reported doing the same. This isn’t the only piece of research to dig into this dangerous trend. As CNBC reports, a separate study from the Federal Reserve Bank also showed that young people are struggling with credit cards. The Fed survey found that about eight percent of credit card balances owed by young people were “seriously delinquent” in the first quarter of 2019. That represents the highest percentage since 2011.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to pay off your credit card bill in full each month. Not only can carrying a balance that’s high in relation to your credit limit hurt your credit score, the card’s interest rate — the average credit card APR is 17.73 percent — will crush your finances. If you carry $4,293 in credit card debt (the average among adult Americans) and pay just the minimum per month, that 17 percent APR will end up costing you more than $3,800 in interest over the course of the loan.
Don’t let credit card debt keep you down. Comb through your finances for non-essential expenses, cut back on them as best you can, and funnel that money to your debt. Pay down the card with the highest interest rate first, then move on to the next card if you have more than one. Your dedication will pay off.