Student loans

54% of teens feel unprepared to fund their future, survey finds

A college graduate calls out his family on video to celebrate

Kemal Yildirim | Getty Images

Teenagers look at the costs of higher education and fear they won’t be able to keep up.

Some 54% of teenagers say they are worried about funding their future, according to a survey by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank of 1,000 children aged 13 to 18 between February 18 and 24.

What to do after high school is the biggest money stressor, according to the survey. Nearly 70% of teens said the rising costs of higher education had affected their post-graduation plans.

“We see that there are so many families who are very unprepared on how to pay for their education,” said Mindy Hager, vice president of student loans at Citizens Bank. “Conversations don’t take place at home or in high school.”

Still, half of the teens surveyed said they plan to enroll in a four-year college after graduating.

How parents can help

Parents can play an important role in helping ease teen concerns about finances and college, Hager says.

One of the best things parents and other guardians can do is talk to their teens about paying for higher education before any applications are sent in. This ensures that everyone in the family is on the same page before the teens start planning their next chapter.

“We call it ‘the other conversation,'” Hager said, adding that it can also be an opportunity for families to discuss the options available for their children to continue their education at a cost that makes sense.

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Many young people today are making different choices to ensure they can afford college – 28% only consider public schools, 22% plan to live at home during college and 10% are considering a two-year degree versus a four-year degree. .

These options can help them take on less debt. This year’s high school graduates could have an average of $39,500 in student loans, according to a NerdWallet report analyzing data from National Center for Education statistics.

“The rule of thumb is not to take out more than your first-year salary will be,” Hager said.

The impact of personal finance education

The survey also revealed that 41% of students said they had not taken financial literacy courses in high school.

This can contribute to the financial stress teens feel as they plan for their future. Nearly 40% said a better understanding of how student loans work would help ease their worries.