Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

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This study examines the extent of emergent, outstanding credit card debt among young adult college students and investigates whether any associations exist between the characteristics of the communities in which these students grew up or lived and their credit card debt. Using data (N = 748) from a longitudinal survey and merging community-level characteristics measured at the zip code level, we confirmed that a community’s unemployment rate, average total debt, average credit score, and number of bank branch offices were associated with a young adult college student’s acquisition and accumulation of credit card debt. Community-level characteristics had the strongest associations with credit card debt even after controlling for individual characteristics such as a young adult college student’s race, GPA, and financial independence and familial characteristics such as their parents’ income and whether their parents discussed financial matters like establishing credit. The findings from this research may help to understand how communities can be better capacitated to support the financial goals of their residents.

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Friedline, T., West, S., Rosell, N., Serido, J., & Shim, S. (2015). Do community characteristics relate to young adult college students’ credit card debt (AEDI Research Brief)? Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

Financial Inclusion Brief Year 2015