Are Today's Teens Smarter About Saving for College?

Are Today's Teens Smarter About Saving for College?

In between Snapchatting and updating their Facebook statuses, today’s teens are apparently spending their time thinking about how to pay for college.

According to a new survey, nearly all teens (93%) said college savings planning was important to them, and 91% expect to be on the hook for at least a portion of their tuition and fees.

The second annual “Teen College Savings Barometer” study, sponsored by the Private College 529 Plan, found that today’s teenagers are more proactive about saving for college than their predecessors: 83% said they’ve researched the best ways to pay for their education, compared to 78% in 2013. For 61% of the 1,002 teens surveyed, that might include taking out student loans.

Hopefully these students’ financial preparedness will come in handy, as the graduates from the class of 2014 are the most indebted in history. Each borrower owes about $33,000, according to the education marketing firm Edvisors—and future college grads will likely owe even more.

But students and their families can still learn more. On average, those surveyed underestimated public college tuition costs by 12% and private college costs by almost 20%. And, although 67% of teens say they’ve discussed saving for college with their parents, 62% would like more general education about the topic. (For instance, less than 15% reported being able to define "529 plan.")

So how and when should you start preparing your kids for the cost of college? Broach the topic early (even when they’re in middle school) and be as honest as possible.

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