Most Teen Workers Don't Save for College

February 6, 2014

The percentage of employed teenagers has declined over the last decade, but what working high school seniors spend their earnings on has not changed much, researchers have found. Most of the money earned goes toward temporary wants or needs, meaning shopping trips, lunch and dinner dates, movies, music and more -- not saving for college. The information was gathered through surveys given to high school seniors by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Authors Jerald Bachman, Jeremy Staff, Patrick O'Malley and Peter Freedman-Doan wanted to learn what teenagers did with their earnings and to see if any patterns affect academic achievement. What they discovered is 17 percent took half or more of their income and put it toward their educations. Those who saved for college were less likely to work more than 15 to 20 hours a week because they wanted to focus on school. They weren’t at high risk of smoking cigarettes. The high school students who juggle school and work to help fund their higher education deserve to be recognized, the researchers say.

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