Members of Generation Z, ages 15 to 24, have a lot to worry about: student loan debt, the iffy job market, diminishing retirement benefits.
A new survey released Thursday by TD Ameritrade shows that they’re doing a lot of things right, while still needing shaping in a few areas.
Head Research conducted an online survey on behalf of TD Ameritrade among 1,000 U.S. residents born between 1990 and 1999 (Gen Z) and 500 U.S. residents born between 1977 and 1989 (Gen Y) from April 30 to May 12.
When asked in an open-ended question what their biggest concern with today’s economy was, Gen Z respondents were most likely to say jobs and unemployment.
This was also their biggest worry when surveyed in 2013. However, it dropped to 25% this year from 34%, thanks perhaps to an improving job market.
Gen Z members also expressed concerns about the future. Forty-four percent of respondents feared that Social Security and other similar government retirement programs would be depleted by the time they retired, up from 39% in last year’s survey.
And 44% of those in Gen Z said they worried about having a large student loan balance when they graduated. According to TD Ameritrade, the average student loan debt today stands at $29,000.
So, is college worth it?
Gen Z respondents think so. Seventy-two percent said they had attended, were currently in or planned to attend college, and 53% said they planned to pursue an advanced degree.
In the new survey, 60% of Gen Z members believed that a college education was key to their success, up from 54% in 2013.
In contrast, only 47% of Gen Y respondents saw college as very important. However, among the latter who had attended college, 51% still felt their college education was worth every penny invested.
With the average cost of a four-year degree continuing to rise, 65% of high school-aged Gen Zers in the survey said they expected to pay tuition with assistance from scholarships and grants.
The reality, however, may be different, researchers pointed out: Only 54% of post-college Gen Zers and 50% of those in Gen Y actually benefited from scholarships and grants.
Fifty-one percent of Gen Z members in the survey reported that their parents were their chief resource for learning about finances. Eighty-four percent said their parents had discussed the importance of saving, on average, by age 14.