JA introduces students to the importance of making wise financial choices. Many of JA’s programs offer students the opportunity to explore the role that money plays in achieving personal goals throughout life. They develop planning, goal-setting and thoughtful decision-making skills that will help them protect themselves from the unexpected financial pitfalls that plague so many adults.

The following collections of statistics illustrate the importance of JA’s efforts to teach young people to be financially responsible adults. In addition to these statistics gathered by Jump$tart from other sources, but sure to check out Junior Achievement’s trend and position papers.

Adults and Parents
According to the 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling:

  • 41% of American adults said they deserve a “C, D or F” when it comes to their own personal financial knowledge.
  • 60% of adults continue to spend without a budget.
  • About one in five adults (21%) say they are spending more than they did in 2014.
  • 33% carry credit card balances from month to month, and 15% carry over more than $2,500 in debt.
  • 24% of credit card holders do not pay their bills on time.
  • While 57% of adults surveyed are saving for retirement and 66% maintain non-retirement savings, 28% are worried that they do not have enough savings.
  • Although 65% use a savings account, less than three in ten use potentially higher-yielding expressed that they are unable to establish emergency or retirement savings or purchase a car as a result of that financial commitment investment vehicles such as a 401(k) (29%) or IRA (25%).

Source: NFCC, Consumer Survey. April 7, 2015

The 2015 America Saves-American Savings Education Council survey of adults revealed:

  • Those who said they are spending less than their income and saving the difference increased from 68% to 71% in the past year.
  • Those who said they are saving at least 5% of their income grew from 47% to 52%.
  • In the past year, the portion of respondents who said they had no consumer debt, or were reducing their consumer debt, rose from 76% to 78%.
  • Respondents who said they had “sufficient emergency savings to pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs or a doctor visit” rose from 64% to 66%.
  • In the past year, there was also an increase in the portion of respondents who said they were making good or excellent savings progress–from 35% in 2014 to 40% in 2015.
  • 43% reported knowing their net worth, 42% have a spending plan to meet savings goals, and 43% are saving automatically outside of work.
  • Almost half of respondents said they were “saving enough for a retirement” with “a desirable standard of living” (55%), save at least 10% of their income (52%), and, among the non-retired, save at work (49%).

Source: America Saves, 8th Annual Savings Survey. Feburary 23, 2015

A December 2014 survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) finds:

  • 64% of adults in the top 10 U.S. markets will make a financially-focused goal in 2015.
  • One in three adults (31%) rate the current quality of their financial life as worse than they expect it to be.
  • When faced with an unforeseen major expense (of which 63% said they experienced in 2014), Americans still rely on credit card use above all else at 36%.
  • Since nearly half of respondents (48%) qualify themselves as living paycheck to paycheck, financial agility planned ahead of time is necessary to stay on track with resolutions.

Source: NEFE, Getting Financially Fit in 2015. December 2014

DoughMain’s 2012 survey of parents revealed that:

  • 81% of parents feel it is their responsibility to teach their kids about money and savings.
  • 63% of kids 18 and under have savings accounts, and 73% of those savings accounts were started before the age of three.
  • 43% of parents review bank statements with their kids monthly.
  • 51% of parents give their children allowance, but only 4% require them to deposit that money into a bank account.
  • Only 28% of children have used online banking to view their savings account balance.
  • Only 38% of parents are matching their children’s savings.
  • Only 30% of children give some of their savings regularly to charity.
  • For children without savings accounts, their money is most frequently saved in a piggy bank, bonds/CDs, or checking accounts.

Source: DoughMain, Study Reveals Need for Tools to Help Parents Teach Kids About Savings. February 17, 2012

The 2011 annual back-to-school survey of parents and teens from Capital One found that:

  • Only 41% of teens expect their parents will spend more than $100 on back-to-school shopping, compared with 68% of parents who expect to spend over $100.
  • 43% of teens plan to contribute their own money to back-to-school spending, but only 15% of parents surveyed expect their child to help pay for the bill.
  • 57% of parents surveyed say that they have discussed the difference between needs and wants with their teen, and 28% of parents say they have created a back-to-school budget with their child. Yet only 26% of teens report that they have discussed the difference between needs and wants with their parents, and only 15% say they have created a back-to-school budget with their parents.
  • 93% of teens surveyed say they are not involved in paying household bills or managing the household budget, and 46% do not know how to create a budget.
  • 55% of teens surveyed say that they want to learn more about how to manage their money – particularly learning about investing (88%), saving (87%), budgeting (82%), checking accounts (80%), and financing for big purchases like a car or a home (79%).

Source: Capital One, Capital One’s Annual Back-to-School Shopping Survey Reveals Gap in Back-to-School Budget Expectations Between Parents, Teens, August 15, 2011

A 2011 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey indicated that:

  • More than half of parents (57%) with kids in high school and college give schools below average or failing grades in teaching kids responsible spending, with more than one-third (35%) giving a straight out ‘F.’ This is compared with 37% of parents who give schools an ‘A’ or ‘B’ for teaching safe sex.

Source: American Express, No Triple ‘AAA’ Rating for Schools that Fail to Teach “Safe Spend. August 10, 2011

A 2011 survey of parents from Visa Inc. found that:

  • 37% of adults interviewed say they learned basic money management on their own. Mothers were the primary source for 25% of respondents, while 22% learned about personal finance from their fathers.
  • Only 5% of those surveyed say they learned about money matters from a teacher.
  • In a related survey conducted in April 2011, 85% of American parents surveyed thought that a course in personal finance should be a high school graduation requirement.

Source: Visa Inc., Mom and Dad ‘MIA’ on Teaching Money Management?, May 24, 2011

Kids and Teens
The 2015 Junior Achievement Teens and Personal Finance Survey found:

  • 48% of teens think their parents will help pay for college but only 16% of parents (of teens) report planning to pay for post-secondary education.
  • 84% of teens report looking to their parents for information on how to manage money, but 34% of parents says their family’s approach to financial matters is to not discuss finances with their children and “let kids be kids.”
  • Millennial parents, ages 18-34, are the least likely to be confident about explaining money management to their kids: 60% report feeling confident, while 76% of parents ages 35-44 and 79% of parents ages 45-54 report feeling the same.
  • When asked to consider the rising cost of college, a larger number of teens in 2015 are considering attending a local community college instead of another college or university: 22% in 2014 rose to 29% in 2015.
  • The gender gap continues in personal finance lessons from parents. Teen boys (31%) are more likely than teen girls (20%) to report that their parents help them keep track of money. Teen boys (88%) also are more likely than teen girls (80%) to report they learned to take care of money from parents.
  • The number of teens who think their parents don’t spend enough time talking to them about managing money significantly rose (21% in 2014 to 32% in 2015).

Source: Junior Achievement/The Allstate Foundation, Teens and Personal Finance. March 25, 2015

Findings from focus groups of low- and moderate-income youth regarding saving and spending:

In 2015, America Saves released a report on focus groups with first-time youth workers regarding their saving and spending. They were asked questions about their thoughts, experiences, and behavior regarding saving, spending, and borrowing. Here are the top 10 insights about what these low- and moderate-income youth think:

  • They know it’s important to save, but don’t know how.
  • They know it’s important to start saving early and that they can start with small savings.
  • While aware of savings best practices, many had difficulty actually saving money and/or meeting
  • their savings goals.
  • They are familiar with direct deposit but do not view it as a savings tool.
  • The most successful savers had two accounts–one for spending and one for saving.
  • They have contradicting feelings about prepaid cards.
  • They understand that spending is about temptation.
  • They understand that living within their means and saving is the way to accumulate wealth.
  • They feel proud earning money.
  • They don’t like the idea of borrowing money.

Source: America Saves, March 16, 2015

The 2012 How Youth Plan to Fund College survey of high school students by the College Savings Foundation revealed that:

  • 78% of students said that costs would influence their higher education plans, but more planned to go to private schools this year than last (21% versus 16% in 2011) and fewer to often more affordable public schools (45%, down from 51%).
  • 78% said it was their responsibility to pay for at least part of their college education.
  • Of the 74% of students who say they have decided to save, fewer are getting jobs to help them: 46%, down from 52% last year.
  • 94% of prospective borrowers are concerned about the debt burden they will face. Yet only 25% of them have projected the total loan amount they will need to graduate (down from 30%), and only 20% have projected what they’ll owe each month to pay it (down from 22%).
  • 51% wished that their current high school offered financial literacy instruction for them and their families to prepare for college costs.
  • 52% have researched tuition costs for specific colleges or post-secondary schools, up from 49% last year.
  • 35% have researched ways to save including personal savings and 529 college savings plans.

Source: College Savings Foundation, High School Students Unprepared for Rising Costs of College with Deep Divide Between Funding Plans and Actions, Says College Savings Foundation’s Survey of American Youth. February 22, 2012

According to a 2011 survey of high school seniors sponsored by Capital One:

  • 75% expect to receive gift money for their graduation. Yet only 19% have created a budget and mapped out a plan for the cash, and only 45% plan to put their graduation gift money into savings.
  • 87% report that their parents are their primary resource for information about money management and personal finance issues, but only 22% report that they talk to their parents about money management “frequently” and 44% say that they “sometimes ask their parents questions” about personal finance.
  • Overall, 49% believe that they are “highly” or “very knowledgeable” about personal finance, but of the students who report frequent conversations about money with their parents, 70% rate themselves as “highly” or “very knowledgeable” about personal finance.
  • 38% say that they are unsure or unprepared to manage their own banking and personal finances.
  • Of those students planning to take out student loans for college, 44% say that they have either not discussed with their parents how student loans work, or they have had a brief conversation with little detail.
  • 37% receive an allowance, and of those, 54% say that their parents “sometimes” talk with them about how it should be handled, and 30% say that these conversations “rarely” or “never” take place.
  • 50% of those who receive an allowance report that they are currently using a budget to manage their expenses and savings, compared with 35% of students who don’t receive an allowance. Similarly, 55% of students who receive an allowance report that they balance their checkbook at least monthly compared with 40% of students without an allowance.
  • Of those who have had a job before, 72% think that their job experience has prepared them for their financial future in some way. Only 51% of high school seniors surveyed currently have a job lined up for the summer.

Source: Capital One, As High School Graduates Open their Gifts, Parents Have Key Opportunity to Talk Money ManagementJune 14, 2011

A 2011 survey of high school seniors conducted by Sallie Mae revealed that:

  • About half of senior girls shopped for two or more weeks to pick out their dream dress for prom and half of senior boys spent two or more weeks deciding whom to ask for the big event.
  • In contrast, nearly half of high school seniors spent five or fewer hours learning how to pay for college.

Source: Sallie Mae, Sallie Mae survey reveals high school seniors spend more time planning for prom than financial planning for collegeMay 11, 2011,

According to Charles Schwab’s 2011 Teens & Money Survey:

  • Nine out of 10 teens say they were “affected by the recession,” causing major shifts in perspective that include a greater appreciation for what they have and an increased awareness of financial hardship.
  • 64% are more grateful for what they have, and 58% reported they are less likely to ask for things they want as a result of the recession.
  • 56% now have a greater appreciation for their parents’ hard work, and 39% appreciate their families more.
  • Three-quarters of teens surveyed responded that their parents or guardians have talked to them about their financial situation during the past year.
  • While teens aren’t overly optimistic about an economic recovery—with most (80%) believing the recession isn’t over yet and almost half (45%) responding that the recession will continue beyond this year—the majority feel they eventually will do better financially than their parents (59%).
  • 77% consider themselves “Super Savers,” as opposed to 23% who characterize themselves as “Big Spenders.”
  • On average, teens have nearly $1,000 saved, and 76% say their main reason for saving is to pay for college. Fewer than 5% agree that “you might as well spend as much as you can today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”
  • 86% indicate they’d rather learn about money management in a class before making mistakes in the real world.
  • 82% say their parents have taught them the basics of money management, and 77% say their parents are great role models when it comes to money management. Parents talk to their teens most about saving, how to be a smart shopper, how to pay for college and the importance of budgeting.

Source: Charles Schwab, 2011 Teens & Money SurveyApril 2011

Results of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of the Treasury 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge:

  • 84,372 high school students registered for the challenge, and received a national average score of 69% on the exam. 18,192 students scored in the top 20% and 563 received perfect scores.

Source: U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, National Financial Capability Challenge 2011 Results. April 2011

Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Results of a Junior Achievement survey of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29, indicates that:

  • 24% believe their student loan debt will ultimately be forgiven. The research also found that only one-in-five (21%) believe that student loans are still a good investment, down from nearly half in 2012.
  • For 60% of Millennials, financial aid is a deciding factor in their school choice. Among those not attending their first choice school this year, 62% said it was because they couldn’t afford it.
  • College tuition and loans top the list of money matters that are worrying Millennials ages 18-29, with one in five (21%) claiming it as their family’s main financial problem.
  • One-third of those students with loans are shelling out over $300 per month and 5% are actually paying more than $1,000 per month.
  • In April 2014, only 50% of those with student loans were “very confident” in their ability to pay off their student loans.

Source: Junior Achievement and PwC, Millennials & College Planning. November 12, 2014

The American Express Spending and Saving Tracker found:

  • Back-to-school spending is up 5% since last year, as parents say they’ll spend an average of $1,151(vs. $1,094 in 2013 and $867 in 2012).
  • Parents expect to spend an average of $529 (46%) of their back-to-school budgets on electronic devices.
  • More than two in five parents usually pay for their back-to-school items with a credit card.

Source: American Express, Students Head Back to Class Technology In Tow. August 13, 2014

The 2014-15 State of College Savings Survey found that:

  • 71% of parents said that increased public awareness of student loan debt had caused them to look at different strategies for funding their child’s education, including saving (45%), grants/scholarships/direct aid (30%), loans/borrowing (15%), and current income (7%).
  • 51% of all parents are already saving, with 46% having saved more than $5,000 per child.
  • 55% of parents had started saving early–between the time their child was born through five years of age.
  • 24% are saving more for college than one year ago, up from 15 percent last year.
  • 33% of all parents own 529 college savings plans, and 25% said that 529s were their primary savings vehicle, higher than any other savings category.
  • 74% of parents expect their children to contribute to college; and 44% of those expect them to get a job.
  • 54% would ask friends or family for college savings gifts rather than a material gift.

Source: College Savings Foundation, State of College Savings. August 6, 2014

A 2014 survey by Sallie Mae and Ipsos Public Affairs found:

  • While the average amount spent on college was consistent with prior years, families spent more out of pocket (42% of college costs) while overall borrowing (22% of college costs) was at the lowest level in five years.
  • Families used grants and scholarships to cover 31% of college costs, and contributions from relatives and friends paid another 4%.
  • Families reported the highest enrollment in two-year public colleges since the survey began (34%, up from 30% last year). In addition, students opted to attend in-state institutions (69%), cut back on entertainment (66%), or live closer to home (61%) or at home (54%), among other cost-saving measures, to help reduce the cost of college.
  • 30% of students were the first in their family to attend college. These students were more likely to apply cost-saving measures (76% chose a school close to home and 72% lived at home), spent less on college overall, and received less financial support from their parents.

Source: Sallie Mae/Ipsos Public Affairs: How America Pays for College. July 31, 2014