42% of High Schoolers Are Worried About Their Financial Future

Despite this worry, many high schoolers set financial goals for the future and say they already have experience managing their own money.

Published March 14, 2022

42% of High Schoolers Are Worried About Their Financial Future
Survey Reports
Photo by Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty Images

  • Over 2 in 5 students (42%) are worried about their financial future.
  • 64% say they have financial goals for the future, 23% are indifferent, and 13% do not have goals.
  • Twice as many Black students (16%) pay for household living expenses as white students (8%).

As high school students prepare for the next chapter of their lives, they're expressing concern about the fate of their finances. In a new BestColleges survey of 1,000 currently enrolled high school students, 42% report that they are worried about their financial future.

Despite this concern, Generation Z students still show confidence in their financial skills. Almost a third (30%) are not worried about their financial future, while nearly an equal amount of students are indifferent (29%). Additionally, about two thirds (63%) of students say they are or would be comfortable developing a budget and more than half (54%) say they are or would be comfortable managing a credit card to avoid debt.

More than 2 in 5 high schoolers (44%) also say that they feel prepared to make financial decisions, while just over 1 in 5 students (23%) do not.

Most students (57%) additionally report they already have experience managing their own money, while just 16% do not. Three in five students (60%) say they are comfortable tracking their spending and an even larger percentage expressed comfort about beginning to save money (77%).

Students are less confident about other financial complexities of adulthood. Just over a third (35%) report discomfort with choosing and applying for a credit card independently, while half (50%) are uncomfortable filing a tax return.

High Schoolers Primarily Get Their Money From Parents

A majority of high school students (53%) report that the money they have comes from their parents. About a quarter of students (24%) say they receive their funds from a regular allowance, while 40% are given money as they need it.

More than half of respondents (51%) also report that they obtain money through a job. White and Latino/a students are most likely to say they earn money this way. Meanwhile, Black students (33%) are significantly more likely than their white (20%) and Latino/a (23%) peers to say they obtain money from a regular allowance.

Unsurprisingly, most students primarily use their money for personal spending (42%). This includes clothing, haircuts, gym use, and more. The second most common use for funds was recreation and entertainment such as restaurants, concert tickets, sporting events, and streaming services (15%). But nearly an equal amount of high schoolers (14%) have used their money for savings, investments, or debt payments.

White students are significantly more likely than their Black peers to use their money for personal spending (46% vs. 36%). Conversely, Black students are twice as likely as white students to say they use their money for household living expenses (16% vs. 8%).

Additionally, Black students are twice as likely as white students to spend their money on education-related expenses (10% vs. 5%) and to report they do not have any money to spend or save (10% vs. 5%). Latino/a respondents are most likely of all their peers to report they use their money for savings, investing, or debt payments (18%).

Female students are almost twice as likely as male students to report spending their money on household living expenses (13% vs. 7%). Meanwhile, male students are more likely than female students to report using their money for savings, investing, or debt payments (18% vs. 11%).

Two-Thirds of High Schoolers Have Financial Goals for the Future

A majority of high school students say they have already set financial goals for their future (64%). Only about a tenth of students (13%) do not while just under a quarter (23%) are indifferent. Latino/a students, white students, and students who plan to pursue further education after high school are most likely of all their peers to have financial goals.



Students who already have financial goals are generally more likely than those without goals to seek and receive information about personal finances. Two-thirds of students (67%) report learning about personal finance from family members. About one-third of respondents report that they learn about personal finance from friends (33%), the internet (33%), and from high school faculty and staff (32%).

High schoolers with financial goals for the future are also significantly more likely than their peers without goals to value possessing personal finance skills (82% vs. 34%) and to say they feel prepared to make financial decisions (57% vs. 14%).

It's clear that most high school students are taking an active role in their finances, thinking about their financial future, and making plans to help curb their finance-related concerns.

Methodology

The survey was conducted from January 31-February 4, 2022. Student respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. Survey participants included 1,000 currently enrolled high school students nationwide. Respondents were 16-19 years of age. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.