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Teens & College Savings 2019

A new survey by Junior Achievement (JA) conducted by the research group Engine shows that more than two-thirds (69%) of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 support the idea of "debt-free college." However, that support drops to a third (33%) if it's paid for with higher taxes. The survey of 1,004 teens was conducted from April 16 to 21, 2019.

"With total student loan debt approaching $1.6 trillion dollars, it's not surprising today's teens support proposals like debt-free college," said Jack Kosakowski, President of Junior Achievement USA. "This survey shows, however, that while many teens are supportive of these proposals, they may not have a full understanding of the financial aspects involved."

The survey also found that nearly all teens (94%) plan to go to college. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 69.7 percent of U.S. high school graduates enrolled in college in 2016. Just under a third (30%) of survey respondents said they expected to take out student loans to help pay for college, while nearly a fourth (22%) expected to find other ways to pay for college and the rest (41%) were unsure of how they would pay for college. According to The Institute for College Access & Success, 71 percent of U.S. college graduates have student loan debt.

"When it comes to paying for college, these results indicate many teens simply haven't given it much thought. As a result, they are going to be more inclined to borrow when they are in college," added Kosakowski. "One way to help better prepare young people to make informed decisions about paying for college is through programs like Junior Achievement."

Junior Achievement delivers programs focused on promoting work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to students in grades K through 12. JA's programs help teens better understand their options when it comes to paying for higher education and encourages them not to take on more debt than they can pay off in a reasonable amount of time given their expected future income. In 2018, Junior Achievement reached more than 4.8 million students in the United States.


This report presents the findings of a Youth CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,004 13-17-year olds, comprising of 502 males and 502 females.  This survey was live on April 16-21, 2019. 

Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options.

High School Milestones for Financial Success

It seems that most adult steps we take happen when we are in high school. We learn to drive, plan for our upcoming future, and take the long leaps and bounds that come with gaining independence. The classes and life lessons learned all seem to come together in this life stage.

But, are teens really prepared for all that life has to offer after walking off the stage with their high school diploma?

When asked about teens’ financial goals for the future…

  • 62% planned on getting a full-time job
  • 59% of teens plan to graduate from a four-year college
  • 53% plan to not rely on their parents or caregivers for money

Yet, of the teens surveyed in the Junior Achievement Teens & Personal Finance survey, only 33% answered that sticking to a budget was a goal.

Of the goals reported as being the most important to the teens in this study, their top concerns were as followed:

  • 47% are concerned about paying for college
  • 45% are worried they won’t be able to afford to live on their own
  • 40% are stressed about finding a well-paying job

What does this study show us? Teens are thinking about their future but not financially planning in advance in order to achieve their goals. When these teens were asked where they seek financial advice and information, more than half (64%) reported going to their parents or caregivers. To make it easier for parents and caregivers to start the conversation at home, here are some milestones to keep in mind that your teen will be experiencing soon, and how you can help them overcome any obstacle that may stand in their way.

Freshman Year

Average age: 14-15

During your student’s freshman year, he or she will be experiencing a lot of transition. Teaching styles will be different and a more “tough love” method will be used throughout their next four-years to ensure they are ready for their next chapter. By this stage in your student’s life, they should already understand credit and debt, budgeting, have a savings account opened at a bank with their own debit card, have financial goals for the future established, and should be practicing their impulse control with “needs” over “wants”.

Student Jobs 

This is a perfect age to be discussing with your child their plans for getting a summer job or a part-time job after school. By encouraging your student to do so, you will be allowing them to grow more independent financially and personally. Have them talk with family friends to see if there are any opportunities for work. Jobs may include: cutting the lawn regularly, dog walking, babysitting or summer nannying, etc. Keep in mind, at this age your child does not have their license, which means whatever job they choose if it’s not in bike-riding distance, you may need to be their ride.


There’s a reason 16 is so sweet. Not only will your child no longer rely on you for a ride to school or to any functions, but they will be able to rely on themselves. While every household is different and some parents may want their high schooler to wait to get his or her license, we highly recommend that the “car talk” has been or will be discussed by freshman year. Be sure to identify what your expectations are of them financially for the car, what is included in paying for a car (insurance, maintenance, gas, etc.).

Game Plan for the Future

Before this moment in their life, your student might have discussed “when I grow up…” dreams. At this point, they need to evaluate those dreams into which will make it to their reality. Do they want to go into a trade-school or attend college? What are their passions? What experiences should they be gathering now to help them determine the path they should go down? Creating a list of all of the careers that interest them is a great way to start. From there look at the pros and cons, how much it would cost to become certified or receive a degree for each of the careers, how much does the average employee in this line of work make, will it be enough income to pay for life-expenses as well as paying back any loans for school? All of these factors should be addressed while they are considering the first chapter of their professional life.  

Sophomore Year

Average age: 15-16

Car Ownership

By your student’s sophomore year, he or she is adjusting to high school life, the increased stress of projects, homework, and exams; they are also learning from their peers. At age 15 to 16, students are driving and receiving cars. It’s important at this stage to remind your child about the expenses that go into car ownership. Typically, students don’t discuss finances as very few are able to work full-time while balancing school and therefore are not struggling with the balancing act of it all.

Earlier, as a freshman or even sooner, the talk of purchasing and owning a car should have been discussed with your student. The discussion should have prepared everyone for the day he or she receives their license and are now free to cruise the open road.

Continuing the Future Talk

We all remember getting asked “So, what’s your plan for after high school?” or “What do you want to study or go into as a career?”. For the majority of us, this question sent our brain in overdrive and sent you in to a wave of panic. Everything that JA teaches is meant to start the conversation to bring awareness and education to topics that students don’t typically face until the minute they are supposed to have it all figured out. Having conversations earlier and continuously provides an opportunity to assist your student in their life journey. By now, the list that you and your student made should be revisited regularly and he or she should begin to identify the career path he or she is wanting to place an emphasis on. This is a great time for them to start looking at possible summer internships to gain experience in the line of work they think they want to be in, it also is an opportunity for them to learn the value of a dollar and put some “skin in the game” when it comes to their finances.

Junior Year

Average age: 16-17

At this stage in high school, your student should know what path he or she needs to take. ACT and SATs are coming up and decisions need to be made. Let the stressing begin!

Paying for Continued Education

What is the price tag for a student attending a university? According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees in 2017-2018 were a whopping $9,970 for state residents at public colleges and $25,620 for out of state residents attending public universities. While the cost of higher education is well-known from experience or from the open-discussion around it; other paths also have costs associated. The “average” trade school degree costs $33,000. While it is significantly less than the average cost of $127,000 for a bachelor’s degree, most of us don’t have that kind of money sitting around. Keep in mind, these costs don’t even include the college application fees which costs between $25 to $90 each. It all adds up fast. The decision your student makes will determine how much they will owe regardless if they go the college route or the trade school route.

Senior Year  

Average age: 17-18

Congratulations! You and your student have made it to the final year, 12th grade! By now, your soon-to-be high school grad has the next chapter planned out in terms of what they are going to do professionally. While it might seem easy enough to send them to their trade school or college and let them “adult” on their own, conversations still need to be had like housing costs, budgeting for necessities like food, getting a job and balancing college, life, AND working towards a future career.

To assist your discussions with your student, check out JA Apps here!

Buying Local in a Buzzing Economy

Food Chain Reaction from a Farmers Market

Image from U.S. Department of Agriculture 

How many times have you heard “Buy Local” or “Support Local Businesses”? Probably hundreds of times. So why this “local” push? What does it do for you or your community? With summer here, the concept of buying locally will only increase, specifically about your local farmers' markets. While providing you with delicious produce, farmers markets potentially have a more significant impact on the community than it does just in your fridge.

First off, let’s explore some fun facts:

  • Did you know that foods in the U.S. travel an average of 1,500 miles just to get onto your plate? Besides providing community perks, farmers markets cut down on the pollution due to these extensive trips.
  • The growers that you meet at farmers markets can also answer all of your questions about what products they have, where they came from, and how they were grown or raised.
  • People who shop at farmers markets have 15-20 social interactions compared to 1-2 per visit if they went to the grocery store! Talk about getting connected in your community!
  • The USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service began tracking the farmers market activity in 1994. Since then, the markets in the United States have grown to 8,720, which is a little over 7% from 2013 alone.
  • The total annual sales from U.S. farmers markets are valued at about $1 billion!

What are Farmers Markets

To start let’s define what farmers markets really are. In essence, these local markets include farmers who live in nearby towns who bring their fresh produce and more to an open space, most likely an open parking lot, for community members to purchase. Believe it or not, the USDA has actual state rules and operating guidelines that farmers have to follow in order to be eligible to sell their vegetables and fruits, which means their locally grown items have been reviewed by similar, if not the same, standards as your grocery store products! In order to participate, the farmer or vendor agrees to pay a fee or percentage of their sales for their booth space.

Inside the Community Economy

Now, let’s jump into the good stuff- the economic impact of farmers markets in your very own communities! To start us off, did you know 89% of farmers surveyed reported sourcing their supplies locally, meaning that what they receive from their communities they are essentially putting back in! This is nearly 2 times the amount of money that is put in compared to wholesale farms, which reported only purchasing 45% of their inputs from their neighbors. To break it down even further, studies conducted by Civic Economics discovered that for every $1.00 we spend at a large grocery store chain, only 15 cents will stay in your local community.

Creating Jobs… Locally

Farmers markets in South Carolina reportedly created between 257-to-361 full-time jobs and generated up to $13 million, by one estimate. Another study from the Sacramento Region in California discovered a job effect of 31.8, which meant for every $1 million of “output” or sales they produce, a total of 31.8 jobs are being created within their community, including on-farm labor and other farm-related positions.

Farmers who are in higher demand by their community members have an opportunity for growth or expansion. By doing so, more “hands-on-deck” during the growing and selling time will be necessary. Through this type of scenario, local community members may find additional work or primary work readily available to them by these farmers.

Ease of Access for Communities

The Farmers Market coalition reported in 2016 that $20.2million in SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) were spent at local farmers markets. Additionally, over half of the farmers market shoppers (60%) reported that their local market had better prices than they experienced in their grocery stores!

Want to start shopping locally this summer? Click here to find a farmers market nearest you!

Learning the impact of local businesses provides an educational opportunity for youth in your community. Amongst all Junior Achievement’s programs, JA Our Community puts a high focus on helping elementary-school students understand how their community operates, what they can do to contribute, and how their local economy works. 

National Student Leadership Summit 2019

In June of 2019, 15 of Junior Achievement’s top student companies came to the Nation’s Capital to compete in the 2019 Junior Achievement National Student Summit.

Junior Achievement’s National Student Leadership Summit (NSLS) is a contest of business skills, ingenuity, and innovation that focuses on the accomplishments of JA Company Program ® students in the United States between the ages 15-19 during the 2018-2019 academic year. Currently reaching more than 10,000 U.S. students who created over 500 start-up ventures, JA Company Program students start and run a real business enterprise under the guidance of a volunteer from the local business community. They devise and market a product or service that fills an unmet consumer need and recruit investors for their company.

Inside NSLS 2019

In June, JA student companies competed in the 2019 National Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. for various sponsored awards.  The student companies were assessed on their financial performance, individual team members’ personal and professional development, a self-produced commercials about their product or service, their team’s live presentation to a panel of business leaders, and on their company’s performance at an Entrepreneurship Expo on Capitol Hill, which was attended by Members of Congress and Congressional Staff.

“Junior Achievement’s student events are of great importance to our organization. These events provide unique opportunities for our students to put into practice the concepts they have] learned from the JA Company Program, such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and sound business practices,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President & CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “The professionalism and passion for entrepreneurship I’ve witnessed during this summit reassures me that our future is in good hands. These young people are a testament to the impact of Junior Achievement.”

After thorough evaluation and judge scoring, the following JA student companies received awards and recognition at NSLS 2019:

JA Company of the Year

Awarded to the student businesses that most effectively demonstrated their companies’ achievements, as well as the personal development of each team member.









JA Company of the Year Winners – Simple Starters

Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 









Second Place Winners – Pure Serenity

Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 









Third Place Winners – Denim2Denim

Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 

Delta Social Impact Award

Awarded to the student team that created a solution to address a local, national, or global social concern by connecting customers, stakeholders and community; demonstrating great customer service; advancing education in their company, and creating value through innovation in all aspects of their business.









Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 

FedEx Access Award 

Awarded to the student team that presented the best business plan with the potential to create jobs and grow small businesses with enviornmental sustainability. 








Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company!

EY Innovation Award

Awarded to the student team that effectively demonstrated how their product, service, strategy, or process is an innovative solution to an existing problem. The award recipient proved to entail aspects of creativity, impact, scalability, and lessons learned throughout their business endeavor.  









Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 

ICE NYSE Foundation Best Financial Performance Award

Awarded to the student team that demonstrated the best financial results, including profitability, investor expectations, employee earnings, product quality, leadership, and operational efficiency.









Click here to see their performance during the Company Presentations!

Click here to learn about their JA student company! 

Jim Sweeny Pioneer Scholarship Award

Awarded to an individual of JA Company for accomplishments in a role within a JA Company and entrepreneurial potential. 










Congratulations to All JA Student Companies that Participated in this Year’s Summit:

 Denim2Denim – JA of Southeastern Pennsylvania

 Pure Serenity – JA of South Florida

Bats Around Town – JA of East Central Ohio

Brush It Off – JA of Western Massachusetts

EcoSlurp – JA of the Upper Midwest

Filtair USA – JA of Northern New England

Hydrope  –  JA of Northern California

MO Co. – JA of Greater St. Louis

Our Story – JA of the Chisholm Trail

Reclaimed Visions – JA of Chicago

Simple Starters  –  JA of East Central Ohio

Sipsy – JA of Greater Washington

Tudrme – JA of Southern California

VIBEzzz – JA of South Florida

WriteCase – JA of the Upper Midwest


Behind the Scenes of NSLS 2019

Throughout the entire three-day event, our two JA Student Ambassadors, Sam Blum and Eric Lin, worked to capture all the fun and excitement at this year’s NSLS. We thank them for their hard work and dedication to Junior Achievement.

Here is an inside look at what NSLS is really like:


Teens & Personal Finance Survey Insights

A new survey by Junior Achievement (JA) and Citizens Bank shows that 63 percent of teens believe they will be financially independent of their parents by the age of 30, meaning that more than a third of teens surveyed do not hold this belief. The survey is being released in conjunction with Financial Literacy Month, which is April.

The survey found that 74 percent believe they will own a car by the time they are 30, with 60 percent believing they will own a home, 44 percent believing they will begin saving for retirement and 43 percent believing they will have paid off student loans. The survey of 1,000 US teens ages 13-18, who are not currently enrolled in college was conducted by Wakefield Research.

The survey also found that most teens’ top financial goal for the future is getting a full-time job (62%). Other financial goals included graduating from a 4-year college (59%), no longer having to rely on parents or caregivers for money (53%) and saving enough money for a big trip or vacation (41%). In terms of teen top financial concerns for the future, those included paying for college (47%), not being able to afford to live on their own (45%), paying taxes (43%) and finding a fulfilling, well-paying job (40%).

Other findings include:

  • Most teens (64%) turn to their parents or caregivers for financial advice, followed by family members (38%), friends (30%) and online resources, such as articles and social media (27%)
  • Most teens making money have some sort of bank account (61%), while the rest save their money unbanked, such as in a shoebox, piggybank or other method.
  • Among those currently in school, more female respondents (40%) than males (34%) believed they would make less than $35,000 in their first full-time job after high school.
  • More teens (22%) earned money in 2019 by working independently, compared to 2018 (16%). Most teens depend on gifts for spending money (64%), while many receive allowances for doing chores (32%). 



The JA Teens & Personal Finance Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. teens ages 13-18, who are not currently enrolled in college between, March 1st and March 8th, 2019, using an email invitation and an online survey.

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