How Much Do College Students REALLY Drink?

How much do college students drink? By Savannah Marie on

By Savannah Marie

Everybody has heard of the famous trope of the “poor” college student, forced to eat nothing but ramen noodles out of financial necessity. But if college students are so poor, how is it that 80 percent of them can afford to drink and that 50 percent of those who drink can afford to binge drink? Yes, as you may know, drinking is a huge problem among students in the U.S., many of whom apparently are willing to spend what little money they have on booze.

Of course, we Americans as a whole love our alcohol. According to a new infographic by 12 Keys Rehab, in the U.S., $1 of every $100 spent goes toward the purchase of alcohol — and about 60 cents of that dollar is spent at bars, while the other 40 cents is being spent at stores.

But just how much money do college students spend on alcohol? The average college student blows $500 on alcohol per year; that’s about $42 per month. By the end of the average student’s college career, he or she has likely spent upwards of $2,000 on alcoholic beverages. You could build a ramen fortress with that cash! (Or, more realistically, cover a few months’ rent.)

The Average College Drinker

The average college freshman drinks five drinks per week, the infographic reports, but these drinks could be spread throughout the week, right? And a single drink each night isn’t that bad for you and could even possibly be good for your health, according to some doctors.

Not so fast! If these drinks were actually nightly glasses of red wine, would 25 percent of college students report academic problems due to drinking? Students report missing classes, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall all due to alcohol. (In fact, and the average undergrad spends 10.6 hours per week drunk, based on data collected from the USDA, FDA, NIAA and Forbes.)

Consequences of Drinking

This is only the tip of the iceberg. College drinking also increases the odds of being a victim of crime, self-injury and health problems later in life, up to and including death. In fact, 110,000 students are arrested every year for alcohol-related incidents, reports It’s a strain on your academic life (and wallet) that no one needs.

Savannah Marie is a food and travel enthusiast and writer. When she isn’t trying out a new recipe or taking a trip outside her comfort zone, she is writing for her blog, Mixios, which features posts on everything from marketing to travel to fitness. Follow her on Twitter.

2 Comment

  1. George Mason says: Reply

    Drinking in college does not necessarily have to be linked with poor academic performance. There is actually a good amount of people in college that don’t drink, and there are students whose academic performance is not at all a consequence of drinking etc. – I think there are various ways of interpreting statistics, but yes, if you put it that way, it’s true. I don’t know about ‘college drinking’, but any kind of drinking can potentially leave some kind of damage, whether being a crime victim or anything else.

    1. Great point, George. Having a drink now and then definitely doesn’t mean that your academic performance will suffer. It’s been interesting to see the latest data on drinking in college and seeing how that matches up to the perceptions about drinking on campus. For some people, they thought many more students drank (and drank A LOT more), whereas others were shocked that the average for a college freshman was 5 drinks per week. I was actually surprised that the research found that 80 percent of students drink; I thought the figure would be lower.

      This article has started a conversation that might be worth a multi-part series, doing a deeper dive into misconceptions about college life. Thanks so much for your insight!

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