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Financial Innovation August 19, 2022

Quicktake: Gen Z mixes traditional and digital payment options for tuition

Quicktake: Consumer insights from Bread Financial

 Funding their futures: Gen Z leverages multiple payment options for college tuition


Students are heading back to college, and it looks like they’ll be packing a variety of payment options along with their books and supplies. Nearly 40% of Gen Zers are partially or fully responsible for their college tuition, and student loans are the most popular way to pay, with 66% saying they have or will have student loans this year. Beyond that, we see a mix of traditional and digital payment options in the mix.

Cash reigns supreme with Gen Z
No matter what the purchase, cash and debit are always Gen Z’s top way to pay. Tuition is no different: 57% of Gen Z will pay their tuition with a debit card, 16% will bring cash and 5% will write a check.

More than one in 10 will leverage digital payment methods
Gen Z is very comfortable with digital payment technologies, even in education: 11% will pay for their tuition costs with PayPal and 9% will use a P2P option like Venmo or Cash App.

Gen Z is not afraid to use unconventional options
While not popular methods (yet), 2% of Gen Zers will pay their tuition using cryptocurrency, 2% will use rewards points and another 2% will use gift cards.

Key takeaway: Gen Z is balancing the old and the new
While the majority of Gen Zers are taking traditional routes to pay their tuition costs, a significant number are willing to go less conventional routes. Gen Z-focused brands can tap into students’ needs through expanded rewards options, unique gifting opportunities and targeted messaging.

Sources: Bread Financial proprietary studies; Look Ahead: Back to School 2022, July 2022; Next-Gen Impact, August 2021.