Young couple discussing finances.

MN Impact: APLUS study continues to provide vital data on how young adults perceive personal finances affecting their quality of life

May 26, 2020


An increase in financial stress and health problems across the nation has spurred an interest among family and development researchers to consider the role of personal finance and financial behaviors on individuals.

What has been done

In 2008, a team of researchers began the Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students (APLUS) Project. APLUS is the first ever study to examine how young people develop financial behaviors and how those behaviors relate to financial capability and well-being as adults. The success of the study relies on the 2,098 students who completed the Wave 1 survey on the financial attitudes and behaviors of college freshmen. In 2017, the research team submitted a report for Wave 4, which included survey results for 855 young adults who have continued to engage with the study. 


The APLUS study has become a key reference point for insights into how college educated millennials perceive financial well-being and life quality. It has also provided significant information about where young adults learn about finances (fewer than 16 percent of American students are required to take a personal finance class in high school) and how that affects their life and even relationships.

Notably, the study has provided data for many offshoot studies and has helped shape educational and outreach programs that improve financial literacy and help consumers make informed financial choices.