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Jobs and finances trump happiness on students’ list of concerns: RBC poll

TORONTO, August 12, 2015 -  As students across the country prepare for the return to school and classes, it’s a time of high anxiety for both students and parents. Students are concerned about more practical issues such as finances and jobs, whereas parents think their children’s concerns rest in whether they will find happiness in their future careers.

According to the latest 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll, students’ top causes for concern are:

  • getting a job after graduation (45 per cent)
  • making enough money to support myself (38 per cent)
  • being happy with my job (36 per cent)

Parents on the other hand believe their children are most worried about:

  • if their program will help land the type of job they will be happy with (44 per cent)
  • being happy with their job after graduation (42 per cent)
  • getting a job after graduation (40 per cent)

More so, while both parents and students are concerned about earning potential, far more students (82 per cent) versus parents (70 per cent) worry whether they will earn enough money to cover living expenses and student debt.

“Parents and students both remain focused on the future outlook, but reality has set in for students as they worry more about job prospects than what might make them happy,” says Mandy Mail, director of Student Banking at RBC Royal Bank. “Being aware of what students are stressed about can help parents navigate the journey and put students on the path to land the right job that can satisfy their financial needs as well as fulfill them and make them happy.”

Going their separate ways
As students continue to struggle for independence, the biggest difference of opinion is the worry over how long they will live at home. More than half of students (58 per cent) are concerned about how much longer they will live with their parents after graduation, but only one-third (35 per cent) of parents felt the same.

“The transition from student to adulthood comes with apprehension, but for students, the biggest step to independence is moving out of the house,” adds Mandy. “As they worry about the cost of living, student debt, grades and job prospects, staying at home longer than they want weighs on them heavily too.”

More pencils and books
Paying for school is top-of-mind for most students, but more so than parents think. A large majority (73 per cent) of students say they are concerned with having enough money to pay for post-secondary school, but only 59 per cent of parents had this same concern. And while parents and students agree that textbooks and clothes will be top purchases for back-to-school, parents are underestimating all the other 'stuff' students plan to buy. Around 20 per cent of students plan to buy a cell phone and/or electronic peripherals such as speakers and a printer, whereas half as many (10 per cent) parents believe their child is planning to make such purchases.

Help manage stress levels before school starts

To help manage stress before the rush of school starts, Mandy suggests parents and students connect and consider the following tips:

  • Talk more often and make sure you’re on the same page. Open communication throughout all school semesters will help to alleviate some of the stress students and parents may feel.
  • Create a budget for today, and make a financial plan for the future. A budget is the best way to track spending and help stay in good financial shape when you are in school. If you can, consider setting money aside on a regular basis to help with financial success down the road.
  • Only borrow what you need and be disciplined about debt. Whether it is using a credit card for everyday spending or taking out a loan to offset tuition costs, learn how to manage credit now so that you can create good borrowing habits that will pay off in years to come.
  • Look for ways to stretch your money. If you carry a rewards credit card, check to see if you can redeem points for gift cards and merchandise for use at school.

About RBC’s financial planning advice, resources and interactive tools
RBC’s Advice Centre offers advice and tools for students. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance, including the Student Budget Calculator and the Debt Reduction Plan. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service. Further information is available at In addition, RBC’s myFinanceTracker, a comprehensive online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits. As well, RBC Virtual Visa Debit enables clients to pay for online, over the phone, or mail order purchases with funds directly from their bank account.

About RBC Student Finances Poll 2015
The 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid through a national online survey of 1,003 students aged 17 to 24 and of 1,001 parents of students in post-secondary school (as of September 2015). Data were collected from June 23 to July 7, 2015. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual Canadian student population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. Unweighted, probability samples of this size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, for each sample group. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

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For more information, please contact: 
Kiara Famularo, RBC Corporate Communications, 647-638-6291