Poll: Two-Thirds of Teens See Borrowers, Not Government, Responsible for Paying Off Student Loan Debt

Junior Achievement® Financial Literacy Programs Can Help Teens Make Better Informed Choices About Paying for College

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2016) – A new survey of 1,000 teens by Junior Achievement® (JA) USA and Voya Foundation shows that nearly two-thirds of teens, or 65 percent, believe borrowers are ultimately responsible for paying off their student loans, even if they borrowed more money than they are able to pay off, while 11 percent believe the government should do so. Fewer, 7 percent, believe it is the responsibility of the college and 5 percent think it’s up to the lender to resolve.

The survey was conducted March 1-6 by Opinion Research.

“What this survey shows is that today’s teens need information on how to make informed choices on choosing the best higher education avenue for them and how to pay for it,” said Junior Achievement of Greater Washington (JAGW) President and CEO Ed Grenier. “This is why it’s so critical that our young people have the kinds of financial literacy programs JA offers to schools in our community, such as the JA Finance Park® program.”

Grenier notes that a four-year college education is the second largest investment many people will make in their lifetimes, and yet decisions to take on student debt are made by 17- and 18-year-olds who have received little to no financial literacy education. This can result in students assuming more debt than they are able to pay off with their expected future income.

This year, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington will reach 63,000 students throughout the greater Washington region with programs focused on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The region is currently home to two JA Finance Park® facilities and a third is in development. The first opened in Fairfax, VA in October 2010 and JA Finance Park® Prince George’s County opened in October 2015 in Landover; JA Finance Park® Montgomery County is slated to open in 2018. To date, more than 71,000 students in the District, Maryland, and Virginia have become JA Finance Park® graduates through more than 1.6 million instructional hours, 86 school visits from 9 school systems throughout the region. There are 19 JA Finance Parks nationwide.

Another resource available to teens, parents, teachers, and school counselors is JA Influencer, a free online resource that explores the opportunities and challenges associated with student loans. A guide titled “Understanding the Student Loan Explosion: Implications for Students and Their Families,” also investigates the various factors students should take into consideration when exploring opportunities in higher education. These include gaining a better understanding of the real costs of going to college and weighing alternatives to a four-year school, such as community college and technical schools.

JA Influencer is the result of support from Voya to reach students through Junior Achievement. Voya has partnered with Junior Achievement since 2001; the partnership is centered on the shared belief in the need to actively prepare and equip future generations to succeed.

The survey also found that 89 percent of teens who responded expect to attend college. Of those, 40 percent expect help in the form of scholarships and grants; 21 percent believe they will receive financial support from their parents and family members; 17 percent plan to work to earn money for college; and approximately 11 percent anticipate taking on student loans to help pay for their higher education. The results represent the findings of an Opinion Research Youth CARAVAN survey conducted among a sample of 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds.  That survey was live March 1-6, 2016. 

About Voya Foundation
Voya Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where Voya Financial® operates and its employees and customers live. Voya Foundation provides grants and establishes signature partnerships in the areas of financial literacy and children's education, and fosters employee engagement to deepen our positive impact on the community. For more information, visit www.voyafoundation.com.

About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $11 billion in revenue in 2015. The company had $452 billion in total assets under management and administration as of Dec. 31, 2015. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya’s vision is to be America’s Retirement Company™. The company is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible — Voya has been recognized as one of the 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute, and as one of the Top Green Companies in the U.S., by Newsweek magazine. For more information, visit voya.com or view the company’s 2014 annual report. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.

About Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
Since 1965, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington has inspired the next generation to be financially capable and tenacious, equipped with the tools to solve problems creatively, manage risk effectively, and welcome opportunity. Through our experiential financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship K-12 programs taught by volunteer role models, we inspire the next generation to navigate their path to the American Dream. This year, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington will deliver its programs to more than 63,000 K-12 students throughout the region. In the last 50 years, JA® of Greater Washington has impacted the lives of almost 800,000 young people in Maryland, the District, and Virginia. Follow JAGW on Facebook and Twitter @JA_GW.