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Majority of American Teens In Favor of Debt-Free College

The majority of American teens preparing to enroll in a postsecondary institution favor the idea of debt-free college, according to a new survey conducted by the research consortium Engine for Junior Achievement.

The consortium engine surveyed 1,004 teens who volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls, consisting of 502 males and 502 females, from April 16 through April 21, 2019.

69 percent of those surveyed, ages 13-17, responded that all students should have a debt-free college education. However, their support dropped to 33 percent if this education is paid for with higher taxes.

“With total student loan debt approaching $1.6 trillion dollars, it’s not surprising today’s teens support proposals like debt-free college,” Jack Kosakowski, president of Junior Achievement USA, said. “This survey shows, however, that while many teens are supportive of these proposals, they may not have a full understanding of the financial aspects involved.”

The survey also found that while nearly 94 percent of teens plan to enroll in a higher education institution, only 30 percent of respondents said they plan to take out student loans to fund their college attendance. Nearly 41 percent said they are unsure about how they will pay for college, while another 22 percent said they would find other ways to cover the expenses.

“When it comes to paying for college, these results indicate many teens simply haven’t given it much thought. As a result, they are going to be more inclined to borrow when they are in college,” Kosakowski added.

Collective U.S. student loan debt topped $1.5 trillion in 2018, officially surpassing the debt levels of both credit cards and auto loans. It now claims second place for the highest debt category throughout the country, second only to mortgage debt.

A recent survey by the Junior Achievement also found that 51 percent of teens want the government and lenders to forgive $1.5 trillion debt held by student borrowers.

Studies have found that student debt is not only affecting the financial health of the students, but their long-term mental health as well.

A study conducted by the College Debt in America: The Case for Tuition & Loan Repayment Benefits found that seven out of 10 working adults with student debt identify their finances as their major source of stress. Most of them are also pessimistic about making significant progress when it comes to paying off their student loans.

$1.5 Trillion Student Loan Debt is a Crippling Burden for Millions of Americans

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