Back-to-School Survey: Big Disconnect between what Teens Think Back-to-School Supplies Cost and what Parents Really Pay

One-in-Five Teens Say Parents Face Challenges Paying for School Supplies, According to Junior Achievement USA® Survey

 A new survey of 1,000 teens by Junior Achievement USA® (JA) shows that a majority of teens (78%) believe parents pay less than $500 for their back-to-school supplies. This is in contrast to the annual Backpack Index, sponsored by Huntington Bank, which reports parents of teens can expect to pay between $957 and $1,498 for school supplies for teens this year. Only 5 percent of teens said school supplies cost $500 or more, with 17 percent responding “I Don’t Know/Unsure.” The JA survey of 13-17 year olds was conducted by ORC International.

“Money can sometimes be an abstract concept to kids, even teens,” said Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Back-to-school time can be a teachable moment. Parents should take their kids shopping with them to increase their financial awareness and gain a better understanding of what things really cost. This helps teens better understand the cost of living.”

While most teens do not know what back-to-school supplies cost, they do understand it can present a financial hardship for parents or guardians. In the survey, one-in-five (20%) of teens said their parents or guardians have faced financial problems paying for school supplies. 

Junior Achievement (JA) prepares students for the future through providing young people with the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA’s programs – in the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy – ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century. Please visit to learn more. 

This report presents the findings of Opinion Research Corporation’s Youth CARAVAN survey conducted among a sample of 1,002 13-17 year olds. Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error are calculated.