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Research Forum to Discuss Recession's Impact on UA Student Well-Being
An ongoing study looks at how well students are coping with the uncertain economy.
Students at the University of Arizona are more than feeling the strain of the recession.
A longitudinal study – Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students, or APLUS – by the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences began following the financial attitudes and behaviors of freshmen last year. The study, led by Soyeon Shim, the director of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, started just before the current recession.
"We have a historically unprecedented opportunity to study how economic impact can affect young adults' well-being and their future financial behavior," Shim said. "At a time when young people should be developing a sense of trust in the larger community, they are confronting skepticism in the wake of economic uncertainty and concern for the future well-being of the country as well as their own financial futures," she said.
As sophomores, 748 of these students were surveyed again this past spring. Nearly all of them reported that the current economic crisis has adversely affected their own financial picture, as well as their families', and has changed how they manage their money.
Joyce Serido, a researcher in the Norton School and the project manager and co-principal investigator for the APLUS study, said students grew up in an era of easy credit and lenient attitudes toward consumer debt. They are now coming into adulthood during a time of economic uncertainty and many of them are hurting.
"In the one-year period between the two waves of data collection, debt is up and well-being is down," Serido said.
"For example, credit card debt has gone up by 60 percent and educational loans are up 86 percent," she said.
The survey also pointed to significant declines in psychological health (5 percent), physical health (3 percent), peer relationships (6 percent), academic satisfaction (3 percent) and financial well-being (8 percent).
Students reported in the survey that finding enough work to pay the bills is more difficult. The stress of trying to balance work and school also is taking a toll on some. Others said parents losing their jobs or having work hours reduced was a concern.
The Norton School will host a breakfast forum where community leaders will discuss the initial data coming from the study. Serido said the discussion will address how students are coping with the changes, who is most affected and students' level of confidence in banks, government and other institutions.
Among those attending include Ted Beck, president of the National Endowment for Financial Education, which provided funding for the study; Arizona state Sen. Debbie McCune Davis; Paul Kohn, UA associate vice president for student affairs and dean of admissions; Jason Ott, public affairs officer for Citigroup's Tucson campus and representing Young Leaders Society; Raji Rhys, UA special adviser to the president for diversity; and Christopher M. Nagata, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.
There is no cost to attend the meeting, but an RSVP is required. Call 520-621-5820.