Student Financial Wellness Survey: Fall 2019 Semester Results

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



higher education students, financial status and behavior


Higher education leaders are looking for high impact ways to improve retention and graduation rates in a climate of austere budgets. Increasingly, higher education sees the interplay of finances and academic performance as a key driver of student success. Across the nation, measurable improvements in student success outcomes are observed when students receive a combination of support services and financial resources that help address the unique financial challenges facing many college students.1, 2 More colleges and universities want to better understand the state of financial wellness for their students to inform strategic planning and to pin a baseline for comparisons after implementing initiatives. Trellis’ Student Financial Wellness Survey (SFWS) informs discussions about college affordability, student debt, and financial wellness at the campus level and among policy-makers.

This report details findings from more than 38,000 undergraduate student respondents from 78 colleges and universities in 20 states. While not nationally representative, student respondents attended public universities, private colleges, and community colleges that range in size from fewer than 700 students to greater than 55,000 students. This report presents results for 2-year and 4-year institutions (private and public institutions combined) separately. Respondents from public 2-year institutions accounted for a disproportionate amount of the total sample, and these students experience significant differences in financial wellness. The appendices of this report contain response frequencies to every question in the survey (broken out by school sector), select findings from cross-tabulations of survey responses, descriptions of sample characteristics and representativeness, and detailed methodology.