Majority of Graduate Students Stress About Finances, Seek Information on Long-Term Financial Security
Multiyear CGS-TIAA Research Initiative on 15 College Campuses Finds High Quality Financial Education Programs Effective

WASHINGTON, DC (November 17, 2016) – Research conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in conjunction with TIAA, a leading financial services provider, found that 60 percent of master’s students and 55 percent of doctoral students report feeling stressed about their finances. While most students were able to make ends meet, 38 percent of master’s students and 36 percent of doctoral students worry about meeting their monthly expenses.

The majority of students surveyed report having no exposure to financial education, and less than one-third are aware of any financial education programs available at their institution. However, graduate students are at an optimal stage of life to receive financial education, as high quality financial education can impact degree completion rates, address concerns about educational loan debt and help increase diversity in academia.

Despite concerns about making ends meet, when offered the choice, surveyed students indicate they are most eager to learn about more complex and longer-term financial topics such as investing, selecting employee benefits and retirement planning. This finding suggests that university financial education programs may be most successful when they are tailored to the needs and interests of the graduate student population.

The findings are from research conducted with 13,000 graduate students as part of a three-year collaboration among CGS, TIAA and more than 30 leading universities. Fifteen universities received grants to ensure a successful project launch, including research to inform campus program development to directly engage students. An additional 19 universities participated as affiliates in the program on a self-funded basis. The program showed that with relatively modest investments, universities can leverage their expertise in teaching and training, tap into existing campus resources, and address their students’ unique needs and preferences for learning—something they already do every day as educational institutions.

Key lessons and data from this groundbreaking program are available in a new report: “Financial Education: Developing High Impact Programs for Graduate and Undergraduate Students,” available at

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Julia Kent

Chad Peterson
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