College Spending Levels

Student Spending Habits

Room and board and gadgets and pizza! College student spending habits. College students spending breakdown.

The average college student owns 6 digital devices that they use around 11.4 hours per day.

  • 97% own a personal computer
  • 94% own a mobile phone
  • 35% own a tablet
  • 3.3% own an eBook reader

Spending Breakdown

  • 40% discretionary (technology, entertainment, clothes, cosmetics, ect.)
  • 26% Room and Board
  • 19% Tuition and fees
  • 12% Other expenses.


3 out of 4 students hold jobs while in college – most often one of these:

  • Waiters / Hostess / Busser / Bartender
  • Resident Assistant
  • Babysitter
  • Tutor

Through part-time jobs and help from mom and dad, the average student income is about $1,200 per month.

That’s only $14,400 per year but it adds up – college students have a combined $417 billion in spending power.


Not all students live within their means –

  • 84% of undergrads have at least one credit card.
  • 9 out of 10 undergrads used those cards for education related purchases, like books and supplies.
  • 21% of undergrads have a credit card balance between $3,000 & $7,000. and when it’s all over, seniors graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt.

In a recent study, 84% of college students admitted they need more education on financial management.

A pre-paid credit card, like the Nationwide Bank Buxx Card, can help promote good spending habits in college, so that students start learning smart money management skills now and avoid the debt trap.

Also, consider reviewing your card insurance policy for additional savings. Qualifying for a good student discount from Nationwide Insurance you can lower your monthly bill, and maybe even leave enough mony left over for a seventh gadget.

College Spending Levels


Infographic by Nationwide.



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