A survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA, a nonprofit youth organization, found that a majority of American teenagers believe that the cost of higher education is one of the biggest challenges to achieving financial success.
According to CNBC, teenagers are also concerned about a general lack of understanding of how money, investing, and the economy works. Nearly half — 46 percent — believe that this is a major barrier to financial security.
Other challenges that were cited include gender and racial pay gaps, and unequal education. Overall, more than half of respondents do not believe everyone is presented with equal opportunities to achieve financial success.
Making Financial Success More Accessible
Most teens surveyed (95 percent) agree that education plays an important role in equality. This places a responsibility on the government and other institutions to make education and financial literacy more accessible.
The pandemic has forced colleges to take a variety of measures to stay afloat. This meant raising tuition, freezing tuition to retain students, or some closing down entirely.
Currently, only 21 states mandate coursework on personal finance — and only Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia require a standalone course on it for high school graduation.
In other states, the groundwork for financial education is still being laid out. According to a report released by Next Gen Personal Finance, North Carolina recently passed legislation requiring personal finance coursework beginning with the graduating class of 2024. In Mississippi, the graduating class of 2022 will be required to take a one-year course on College and Career Readiness, which includes one semester of personal finance.
Co-founder and CEO of Next Gen, Tim Ranzetta, also told CNBC that 25 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation this year to increase access to financial education. This includes “developing curriculum standards and forming task forces to require a course prior to graduation.”