San Marcos named ninth most financially vulnerable college town in US

COVID-19 has caused shutdowns across the country and many colleges and universities are trying to figure out what fall will look like for their students, with quite a few looking at virtual instruction which could affect the local economy.

A recent study looking at college towns across the US says that San Marcos, home of Texas State University, is the ninth-most financially vulnerable college town in the U.S. 


In their study, financial technology company SmartAsset looked at towns most dependent on undergraduate students. 95 college towns with populations of 50,000 or more were examined across six metrics:

  • Students as a percentage of population: Number of undergraduates taking in-person classes at all four-year colleges and universities in the city divided by the city’s total population
  • College staff as a percentage of workers: Full-time and equivalent staff at all four-year colleges and universities in the city divided by all full-time workers in the city
  • Concentration of restaurants and bars: Number of restaurants and bars as a percentage of all establishments
  • Concentration of entertainment establishments: Number of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments as a percentage of all establishments
  • Concentration of bookstores: Number of bookstores as a percentage of all establishments
  • Concentration of hotels: Number of hotels and motels as a percentage of all establishments

San Marcos ranks in the worst fourth of vulnerable college towns for four of those six metrics. According to SmartAsset, it has the fourth-highest student population (just over 40 percent of the total city's population), 23rd highest concentration of entertainment establishments, 13th highest concentration of bookstores and 18th highest concentration of hotels.

RELATED: San Marcos economy relies heavily on college students’ return

To do this study, SmartAsset pulled data for U.S. cities with a population of at least 50,000 and at least one four-year college or university. From there, they looked at those where students made up more than 10 percent of the population, leaving a total of 95.


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In addition to San Marcos, College Station, home of Texas A&M University, ranked in the top ten at number two. SmartAsset says that in 2018, more than 44 percent of the city's population was TAMU undergraduates. The area also has the 12th highest concentration of restaurants and bars. Also almost 1 in 5 workers in the area work at the university.

Bloomington, Ind., home of Indiana University-Bloomington, ranked first in the study with one in three residents an undergraduate student and one in four workers in the city is affiliated with the university.

To read the full study, click here.



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