This guest post on financial security for teens is my pleasure to share. I was a member of Junior Achievement in 1978/79 and loved the opportunities it afforded me – Connie.

High School Students in Classroom - financial assessment for teens

High school seniors have spent the last couple months celebrating graduations across the country; the diplomas are in hand, the parties have been thrown and summer has begun. For some, summer means preparing for the big move to college in the fall; for others, it means jumping head first into adulthood. But, are our nation’s newest graduates financially ready for either of these life changes?

A new survey from Junior Achievement USA® (JA) and The Allstate Foundation shows that teens have doubts about their finances when it comes to both life paths.

For teens heading off to college, more than half (52 percent) think they are borrowing too much money for their education, yet only nine percent are currently saving money for school and nearly 30 percent have not talked with their parents about the cost of attendance. There is a significant disconnect in teens wanting to go to college and being financially realistic about what this takes.

Taking a different life path but still with the same doubts, teens jumping into the workforce right after graduation want to immediately begin earning money, but are unsure about their ability to budget (23 percent), use credit cards (20 percent) or invest money (34 percent). Additionally, nearly one in three teens (29 percent) thinks he/she will be age 25 or older before becoming financially independent from parents/guardians, up from 12 percent in 2011.

Preparing Teens for their Financial Independence

Tackling these issues to better prepare teens for financial independence starts now. Similarly to how parents encourage and guide their children through other aspects of their lives, they also need to give them the path to financial independence by talking to them about money. If parents are feeling nervous, lean on Junior Achievement to provide the tools.

At Junior Achievement, we are committed to preparing students from kindergarten through high school to own their economic success. We understand that preparing our youth to be financially literate is more complex than teaching them to put their pennies in a piggy bank, which is why JA has developed relevant programs crafted to meet the needs of an ever-changing environment. The Junior Achievement JA Economics for Success® program, created in partnership with The Allstate Foundation, has helped more than 1.2 million students set personal goals about money and make wise financial choices, like renting an apartment post-graduation.

Junior Achievement works closely with educators and with the business community to deliver our programs to more than 4.2 million U.S. youth annually. To learn more about what JA is doing in your community, please visit www.ja.org.

By Jack E. Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement USA