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Survey: 30% of High School Students Plan to Delay Their College Start Date

A new survey reveals that 30% of high school students are delaying their college start date while 13% plan to change their original chosen institution due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 13-18 participated in the “The Financial Impact of COVID-19” survey, which was carried out by the non-profit organization Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Financial Group.

For 57% of high school students, there is concern about how COVID-19 will impact their future plans such as attending college, the survey found. As much as 44% of high school juniors and seniors said the pandemic has impacted their college affordability plans. And now, 58% of teenagers are more likely to take out student loans for school.

Ed GrocholskiEd Grocholski

“With a lot of seniors getting ready to graduate and juniors starting to think about what they’re going to do after high school, we wanted to get a better idea if those plans were changing because of what’s happening,” said Ed Grocholski, senior vice president of brand at Junior Achievement USA. “They are not taking this for granted, they are really focused right now and not just kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen in a few months.”

For those students already admitted at a university or college, Grocholski suggested that institutions remain proactive in being transparent with information and decisions in the coming weeks and months.

“Even if they haven’t made a decision yet to go online, say for the fall semester, they should at least communicate with incoming freshman to explain what are some of the options they are looking at just so these kids have that information as they’re planning to go to school in the fall,” he added.

Almost three-quarters of teenagers said they have had discussions with their parents or guardians about the financial impact of the virus. Additionally, 24% said their parents or caregivers had shared their concerns about whether or not they would be able to pay the bills and 13% had a parent or guardian lose their job, according to the survey.

In addition to stress about their parents’ jobs, teenagers are also worried about their own jobs. The survey found that 22% of teenagers hold a job and 46% said their families depend on their income to help manage household expenses. For working teenagers, 62% said they have to violate their states’ social distancing protocols and recommendations in order to continue at their place of employment.

“These survey results show that our kids are not immune to the concerns related to the financial impact of COVID-19,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, in a statement. “We at Junior Achievement are reaching out to parents and caregivers to provide resources to talk to their teens about what’s happening in a way that not only informs but provides reassurance that things will eventually get better.”

Christine RobertsChristine Roberts

Since there continues to be a lot of confusion about the impact of the pandemic and an increase in unemployment rates across the country, Grocholski encouraged more students and parents to have open conversations about their concerns.

“It’s important that parents do keep their kids in the loop, especially if they are getting ready to go out on their own, about what this could mean for them in terms of school or anything else they are doing after high school,” he added.

Christine Roberts, the head of student lending at Citizens Financial Group, said parents should talk about the earning potential and average starting salary of the degree their children want to apply for in order to avoid taking on too much student loan debt.

“It is now more important than ever for families to have frank and transparent conversations about the cost of college,” she added. “Having open conversations will help parents set expectations while including their children in the discussion.”

In addition to financial concerns, high school students are also stressed about the overall health of family members. According to the survey, 59% of teenagers said they worry about a parent or guardian getting sick while 60% are worried about other family members eventually contracting the virus.

As states and schools begin to reopen in the upcoming months, Grocholski said they will continue to monitor the situation and further conduct research on the pandemic’s impact on young students.

Sarah Wood can be reached at [email protected].

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