Retirement readiness among the higher education workforce: Impact of COVID-19

March 2021

Since the onset of COVID-19, 22% of the full-time higher education workforce have become less confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement. At the same time, 9% have become more confident.


This report uses data from the 2020 Higher Education Financial Wellness Survey to examine retirement readiness among the full-time higher education workforce in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes retirement saving and investing and converting savings to income during retirement, as well as addressing retiree medical and potential long-term care expenses.

Key Insights
25% of retirement savers have increased the amount they are saving, while 22% decreased their saving, including 4% who stopped saving.
40% of retirement savers changed their savings investments, with 19% decreasing equity exposure and 21% increasing it.
20% of those currently saving for retirement have become less confident they are saving an adequate amount; 7% have become more confident.
17% of retirement savers have become less confident their savings is invested appropriately, while 8% have become more confident.
Over half of retirement savers have received financial advice on planning and saving for retirement within the past two years; one-third since the onset of COVID-19.

The 2020 Higher Education Financial Wellness Survey was fielded online from Sept. 18 to Oct. 17, 2020, with a sample of 1,195 faculty, staff and administrators employed full time by a public or private nonprofit college or university.

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