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High school graduates could be putting off college due to financial impacts of COVID-19

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Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 2:02 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A recent study shows that 2020 high school graduates may have delayed college plans due to concern about their financial security.

Junior Achievement of Kansas says COVID-19 has impacted how teens think about their personal financial futures, prompting 25% of graduates to delay their college plans in 2020 in the face of reduced financial support from parents and guardians due to the pandemic. The findings, which it says indicate broad-based concern among teens about how they will pay for education, highlights an increased need for financial literacy curriculum to empower them to make financial decisions that will impact them over the long term.

According to JA, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on teens of color, with 60% of Black and 59% of Hispanic teens in 11th and 12th grade reporting that the pandemic has affected how they will pay for college, compared to 45% of their white peers.

JA said the survey was conducted among 2,000 American teenagers aged 13-19 that are not in college and 500 tens that graduated high school in 2020.

“The past year has brought unprecedented challenges and uncertainty to everyone, and high school students are feeling this uncertainty as they navigate the transition to the next phase of their lives post-high school,” said Christine Roberts, Head of Student Lending at Citizens. “Equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to make important financial decisions is critical to easing uncertainty and ensuring teenagers are able to make sound financial decisions.”

According to JA, despite showing more uncertainty and anxiety among young people due to the pandemic, the survey also showed an overall sense of optimism among respondents, with 74% of high schoolers remaining bullish about their financial futures. It said even with many delaying post-high school plans, 65% of the Class of 2020 remains optimistic about their financial future.

JA said many of those surveyed reported that the pandemic has made their families dip into their college savings. It said 72% of the Class of 2020 graduates plan to attend college and expect their parents or guardians to pay at least part of their education. Among them, it said 37% say their parents or guardians will cut back on their planned financial support for education due to the pandemic. It said 81% of juniors and seniors plan to attend college and expect their parents or guardians to pay for part of their college education, and among them, 43% say their parents or guardians will cut back on their planned financial support for education.

“Last spring there was concern about how the pandemic would impact the Class of 2020, and this survey reinforces those concerns,” said Ashley Charest, President, Junior Achievement of Kansas. “After the financial crisis of 2008, we saw a doubling of student loan debt and young adults impacted by that situation delaying major life decisions, such as purchasing a home, starting families and planning for the future. It is important that we offer support for today’s teens experiencing the economic fallout from COVID. For Junior Achievement, that means providing education about critical life skills to help them navigate uncertain times.”

According to JA, the survey also found that 55% of 2020 graduates have talked to their families about fiances more due to the pandemic. It said 69% of 2020 graduates are concerned about the financial impact of the pandemic on their families.

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