Nearly 90 percent of adjunct faculty at American colleges and universities report that they are saving, with the most common reasons being retirement and building an financial emergency fund, according to a report released today by the TIAA Institute. The 2018 Adjunct Faculty Survey, which examined the personal finance and retirement savings practices of adjunct faculty, also found that one-third of adjunct faculty have contributed to a retirement plan offered by the college or university where they work.
“Having a greater awareness of the financial status, including retirement savings, of adjunct faculty will enable administrators to better provide for their employees and improve the strength of their institutions,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute. “This report builds on our understanding of a critical segment of the higher education workforce.”
While adjunct faculty are paid an average of $3,000 per course, nearly 60 percent receive less than that and 40 percent report they are working elsewhere in addition to their current college and university employment. Despite this, one-half of adjuncts report they are satisfied with their current financial situation overall. Fifty-six percent report that it is “easy to make ends meet” while 16 percent find it difficult.
According to the survey, an adjunct’s financial satisfaction is likely linked to their household income. Sixty percent of adjuncts are in households with incomes of $50,000 or more; 30 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more. This indicates that that the majority of adjuncts are in households where adjunct earnings are not the primary source of income.
Three-quarters of adjunct households carry debt. The most common debt sources are credit cards and home mortgages. Student loan debt was common among younger adjunct faculty; 48 percent of those under 40 report having student loan debt compared to just 12 percent of those 55 and older.
To view the full results of the personal finance and retirement savings portions of the 2018 Adjunct Faculty Survey, please click here .