By Nathalie Voit

More than half of American teenagers feel unprepared to finance their futures, new research from Citizens Financial Group and Junior Achievement found.  

According to the fifth annual JA Teens & Personal Finance Survey, 54% of teenagers do not feel financially ready to tackle their futures. More than two-thirds of teenagers (69%) said the rising costs of obtaining a college degree had affected their plans to get an education after high school.

Of the majority of participants who said money was a factor in considering whether they would pursue additional education after high school, 28% said they would consider only in-state schools, 22% said they plan to live at home and commute to college, and 10% said they would consider getting a two-year degree versus a four-year degree to save money. About one in three participants (31%) don’t expect their plans to be impacted due to costs.

Students said they would feel more at ease if they had a better understanding of how student loans work (39%), more knowledge of how education is related to future job success (38%), and if they had access to lower-cost options (32%). More than four in ten teenagers (41%) said they had received no financial literacy courses in high school.

Teens’ top concerns about pursuing higher education, in order of ranking, are costs (49%), taking student loans (43%), uncertainty about future careers (32%), lack of return on investment (27%), moving away from home (25%), and being around new people (25%).

“In order for students to feel confident financially, it’s critical to equip them with the skills and knowledge to make sound financial decisions,” said Head of Student Lending at Citizens Chris Ebeling. “Coming up with a strategy to pay for college can be daunting, but financially empowering students and families can help them for the rest of their lives.”

Wakefield Research conducted the survey of 1,000 teens (aged 13 to 18) between Feb. 18–24 on behalf of Junior Achievement and Citizens.