Thunder Ridge High School senior Erika Johnson said today’s students are concerned, now more than ever, with the rising cost of college and balancing personal expenses.
A March survey commissioned by Junior Achievement of Idaho and Citizens Financial Group, stated that more than a third of teens don’t believe they will be financially independent from their parents by the age of 30.
Junior Achievement of Idaho, whose goal is “to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy,” works with schools throughout the state. The organization announced the results of the survey in a news release.
The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, found that 74 percent of respondents believe they will own a car by the age of 30; 60 percent believe they will own a home; 44 percent believe they will begin saving for retirement and 43 percent believe they will pay off their student loans by then.
Forty-five percent of students surveyed were concerned with not being able to afford to live on their own, the release said. Forty-seven percent were concerned with paying for college. Forty-three percent worry about paying their taxes.
“These survey findings show a disconcerting lack of confidence among teens when it comes to achieving financial goals,” Junior Achievement of Idaho President Sean Evans said in the release. “With a strong economy, you would think teens would be more optimistic. It just demonstrates the importance of working with young people to help them better understand financial concepts and gain confidence in their ability to manage their financial futures.”
The idea of being financially independent is a rising issue with young Americans.
National student loan debt — which has risen to a total of $1.52 trillion and is the second-highest consumer debt category behind only mortgage debt, according to Forbes — has increased almost 160 percent since 2007.
Today’s average hourly wage, after adjusting for inflation, has about the same purchasing power it did in 1978, according to the Pew Research Center.
“I do fear about paying for college,” Johnson, 17, and a paid intern with Idaho Central Credit Union, said. “I’m in debate, so one of the things we debated this year was whether or not there should be a cap on college tuition. ... I do think they should look into (that) and help us. How is an 18-year-old, who’s not making any money, supposed to go out and take on so much debt?”
“I definitely think there’s an error in the system,” she added.
Thunder Ridge senior Kallie McLaren echoed Johnson’s worries about paying rent and moving out, though she did add that there are business electives students can take in high school to help them learn to manage their finances and scholarships to help pay for college.
McLaren said classmates have previously asked her about credit and debit card management and debt. She also said her parents would help her get started in adult life but she wants to be independent.
“I know they’ll let me come back and help me,” McLaren said of asking her parents for help. “But I know I need to start learning how to budget more and taking those steps to independence.”
While it’s important for schools to teach personal and financial responsibility, Nate James, a branch manager at the Thunder Ridge ICCU branch, said parents also should to teach their children appropriate ways to handle money.
“Some responsibility falls onto the parents, too,” James said. “Because if they’re instilling on their kids good habits with money, then choices like college are easy. ... When I was in high school no one talked to me about scholarships or other ways to finance school that wouldn’t put a burden on me later in life.”