High School Students Headed for Higher Ed with Savings and Clarity of Purpose
Gen Zs share their views on what they want for a Higher Education Experience
With an aversion to debt and ambitions for the future, high school students across the U.S. are determined to pay, work and save for their desired higher education goals. Data from the College Savings Foundation’s 14th Annual Youth Survey of 1,000 graduating seniors, juniors and sophomores paint a portrait of a practical, prepared and hopeful generation that is making choices to lower their costs while partnering with their parents who are also saving and using 529 higher education plans to do so.
When asked how they would design their perfect higher education experience, students cited a combination of traditional 4-year college – with valuable educational credentials, long-term friendships, and access to sports and clubs – along with a newer vision of classes that offer real work experience and opportunities to advance their careers.
“CSF is excited to see the enthusiasm these students are showing in planning for higher education. Three years after COVID up-ended student academic and social lives, we are pleased to see reengagement and interest in the benefits of post-secondary education beyond academics to include lifelong connections and a focus on work readiness,” said Vivian Tsai, CSF Chair.
The survey found a decline in the impact of COVID on students’ futures with 17% saying they were changing their higher ed plans because of it, down from 28% last year.
How Gen Z Funds Higher Ed: Saving, Learning and Working
High school students demonstrated a willingness to save and a knowledge of 529 higher education plans that together will help them stave off the pressure of student debt. The following data points to how students intend to fund their higher education paths:
The Role of Parents and Concern about Debt
Students are highly engaged with their parents in planning for and funding higher education – with an emphasis on their career path:
The survey also found that many high school students are concerned about student debt and are changing their higher ed choices or taking other steps to avoid it:
In a related answer, 41% said they have had to change their higher ed choices due to costs. Of those, 33% are choosing a state school, 29% a community college and 16% a technical and career education.
The Ideal Higher Ed Experience
The survey included questions about both tangible and intangible features of higher education on which the respondents provided input. Interestingly, the responses reveal students’ strong vision for their higher education that combined benefits of a traditional 4-year college and work-focused classes:
Among all students, Public College is the top education destination (40%), followed by Community College (19%), Private College (14%) and Technical and Career education (12%).
For those planning to pursue Technical and Career education, 48% of the students are saving for it; and 30% of them and their family members (23% of their parents and 7% of the students) are using a 529 to do so.
College Savings Foundation’s survey of 1,000 high school students across the country was conducted through Survey Monkey with parental permission. The College Savings Foundation (CSF)is a Washington, D.C.- based not-for-profit organization helping American families achieve their education savings goals. www.collegesavingsfoundation.org