Can you believe it? Graduation season is around the corner.

And as student debt is at a record $1.7 trillion, a new study report on the “Cities with the Most & Least Student Debt in 2021,” along with a nationally representative “Student Money Survey,” offers key findings.

Also, see the “Best Credit Cards for 2021 Graduates,” to help new college and high school grads build credit and maximize savings Here is some key points from the report according to WalletHub:

Most Overleveraged CitiesLeast Overleveraged Cities
Fernandina Beach, FLGarden City, NY
Avon Park, FLGilroy, CA
Orangeburg, SCSammamish, WA
Beaver Falls, PASunnyvale, CA
Ashland, ORMorgan Hill, CA
Sun City West, AZSummit, NJ
Athens, GAFoster City, CA
Bloomington, INSouthlake, TX
Hallandale Beach, FLRiverbank, CA
Cottonwood, AZDarien, CT

Survey Results and Best Card Picks

  • Almost 25% of students think that a college education is less important due to COVID-19.
  • 42% of students think that credit cards will be more important after the pandemic.
  • 29% of students have missed a bill payment since the pandemic began.
  • Having emergency savings (48%) is the most important financial lesson students have learned from the pandemic, followed by having a steady job (24%) and not going into debt (15%).
  • Almost 1 in 2 students say that the pandemic has helped improve their financial literacy.
  • The best credit cards for 2021 graduates are the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students (limited credit & EDU email), the Petal® 2 Visa® Credit Card (limited credit & no EDU email), and the Discover it® Secured Credit Card (damaged credit).

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted students’ perception of college?

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly a quarter of students think that a college education is less important,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The pandemic has taken a heavy financial toll on the country, and some people may decide that searching for a steady source of income is the better choice for them, rather than going into debt for further education.”

What financial lessons has the COVID-19 pandemic taught students?

“Around 48% of students say that the biggest lesson they have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that they should have emergency savings. Preparing an emergency fund is crucial to soften the blow of unexpected financial difficulties like those during the pandemic, and WalletHub recommends that people try to save up at least nine months’ worth of expenses,” Gonzalez said.  “Some of the other big lessons that students have learned during the pandemic are finding a steady job and not going into debt.”

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected students’ abilities to make bill payments?

“Unfortunately, 29% of students have missed a bill payment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlights the massive financial impact of the pandemic,” Gonzalez said. “The good news is that there has been relief for people who can’t pay their bills, such as the federal eviction moratorium, special hardship programs from financial institutions and stimulus checks. While these relief provisions last, students should practice strict budgeting to help get themselves back on track with payments.”

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted financial literacy?

“Almost half of students say that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped improve their financial literacy, which should help them be more prepared for future crises,” Gonzalez added. “These students should be able to make more informed decisions about borrowing, saving and spending money, as well as establish good practices like keeping a low credit utilization and building an emergency fund.”

Source: WalletHub