America’s Youth Look to the Future

America’s Youth Look to the Future

Press Release

Key Findings PDF
Survey Co-Sponsor’s Website

Survey Shows 1 in 4 Youth May Find College To Be Impossible Dream Many Lack Finances, Skills to Further Education, Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 14, 2003 – One in four young people will likely lack the resources, financial savvy and skills to achieve their college and career dreams according to a new survey conducted by RoperASW and the Institute for Global Futures. The survey authors warned that these unrealized dreams could have a critical impact on the future competitiveness of the U.S. workforce.

The survey “America’s Youth Look to the Future,” sponsored by the Student Loan Finance Corporation, examined the attitudes, aspirations and financial and academic preparedness of young people ages 16-24. It found that today’s youth were highly optimistic about their personal future with the vast majority (94 percent) planning to pursue their education beyond high school and 83 percent planning to have a job that interests them.

However, the survey identified a key group of young people – one in every four youth -which currently lack many of the skills needed to succeed in the future workplace. These youth are at a very high risk for failing to reach their education and career goals.

“The good news is that this generation of young people has the desire, motivation and dedication to pursue their college dreams. The bad news is that a large number of them are unprepared to deal with the reality of what a college education costs,” said Norg Sanderson, CEO of Student Loan Finance Corporation. “We may be raising a generation where the majority of young people will have unmet educational needs and little financial know-how, placing themselves and the nation at risk.”

According to the survey, 52 percent of young people see the high cost of tuition as a major obstacle to furthering their education. However, 70 percent say they know little or nothing about how to apply for student loans and 54 percent do not have a plan for paying them back. Young people are also assuming large financial burdens early on. Yet, only 31 percent of today’s youth say they know a lot about how to develop a financial plan and less than half (45 percent) know a lot about how to manage their debt.

The survey also found that only about one in five young people feel strongly that the education system is doing a good job of preparing them to succeed in the workplace. Nearly half (47 percent) of today’s youth also rate the overall quality of K-12 public education in America as fair or poor.

“Young people’s expectations of future success are equal, but the degree to which they are prepared to pursue this success is dramatically different,” said Dr. James Canton, CEO of the San Francisco based think tank, The Institute for Global Futures.

Canton said the survey revealed that the young people who appear to be the most prepared to succeed (approximately 32 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds) are predominately male (61 percent), feel they have good math and science skills and believe technology will drive America’s economic success. Upwards of 80 percent of this group also has good money management skills and are familiar with college financial aid resources.

“America is now at a critical juncture,” Canton said. “If we do nothing right now to better prepare our young people, our workforce 10 to 20 years down the road will be running short on highly skilled employees. It will also be forced to absorb tens of millions of frustrated employees who were denied educational opportunities and the chance to purse their career goals.”

Additional Key Survey Findings:

  • 47 percent of young people don’t know anything about investing in the stock market.
  • 29 percent of youth say they know nothing at all about saving for retirement.
  • 55 percent of youth who think they will live to be over 100 don’t think Social Security will be there for them when they are ready to retire.
  • 93 percent of today’s youth consider working hard to be very important to their future success in the workplace.
  • While four out of five youth are optimistic about their future careers, ambitions and family lives, fewer than half (47 percent) are optimistic about the country’s economy.

Study Methodology: Findings from this study are from a telephone survey of a nationwide cross section of 1,017 young people ages 16 to 24. RoperASW conducted the interviews for Student Loan Finance Corporation and the Institute For Global Futures. The sample was drawn from RoperASW’s Fast Answers respondent database, which is comprised of households from other (RDD) sample surveys. Households were randomly selecting from among those identified as having youth in the target age groups. The margin of sampling error for the nationwide sample of 1,017 respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Student Loan Finance Corporation

The Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC) is a leader in the student loan industry. SLFC is committed to working with lenders, educational institutions, and America’s youth in preparing the nation to successfully meet the challenges of the future.

About Roper ASW

RoperASW, an NOP World company, is the merger of two of the world’s leading market research and consulting firms – Roper Starch Worldwide and Audits & Surveys Worldwide. For over 75 years RoperASW professionals have helped global marketers acquire new customers, build customer loyalty, and align their organizational goals with business and consumer needs.

About Institute for Global Futures

The Institute for Global Futures is a San Francisco based think tank that offers business strategy and forecasts about leading-edge innovations and trends. IGF was founded by Dr. James Canton; noted futurist, author and digital entrepreneur.