Survey reveals disconnect in college financial planning; JA resources designed to help

When it comes to planning for college, many young people are unprepared and ill-advised. While many plan to pursue higher education, a large percentage of high school students are clueless when it comes to the actual cost of a college education and have even less knowledge about realistic strategies for funding it.  The 2016 JA Teens and Personal Finance survey conducted in March by Junior Achievement and the Voya Foundation confirms this.

Of the 1,000 surveyed teens that plan to attend college, only 11% anticipate taking out student loans. In 2015, however, 71% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student loan debt, and that debt averaged around $35,000.

“What this survey shows is that today’s teens need information on how to make informed choices on choosing the best higher education avenue for them and how to pay for it,” said Robin Wise, president and CEO of Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. (JA).

JA recognizes the critical need to help young people plan for their futures. This school year alone, JA will reach more than 127,000 students in Colorado and Wyoming with programs focused on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. JA also offers JA Influencer, a free online resource that explores the opportunities and challenges associated with student loans.  It’s a valuable resource for teens, parents, teachers and counselors.  A guide titled “Understanding the Student Loan Explosion: Implications for Students and Their Families,” investigates the various factors students should take into consideration when exploring opportunities in higher education. These include gaining a better understanding of the real costs of going to college and weighing alternatives to a four-year school, such as community college or technical schools.

According to U.S. News and World Report, in the last 20 years, the average tuition and fees at private universities in the U.S. increased 179 percent. Out-of-state tuition and fees at public universities has increased 226 percent since 1995, and in-state tuition and fees at public universities has increased 296 percent during that same time frame.

Now, more than ever, high school students need to have the knowledge and resources available through JA to make informed decisions and to plan wisely for higher education and career choices.