Paying for college tops the list of financial concerns in a new national survey by Junior Achievement and Citizens Bank.

Forty-seven percent of teens said they’re most concerned about how they’re going to pay for college followed by 45 percent who said they’re worried about not being able to afford to live on their own, paying taxes (43 percent) and finding a fulfilling, well-paying job (40 percent).

“It’s clear that more has to be done to help prepare students for the future — whether it is through helping them navigate paying for college or educating them on how to manage their money by establishing savings and checking accounts,” Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer deposits and lending at Citizens Bank, said.

School lender Sallie Mae released a chart showing how the average family pays for college. It shows parents are relying on financial aid more than ever to help cover the skyrocketing cost of tuition, according to CNBC.

sallie mae

In the 2016-17 school year, 35 percent of college costs were covered by scholarships and grants, the highest in the report’s history, and student borrowing is at an all-time high at 19 percent.

The report shows that for the majority of high school seniors, attaining financial aid is the only way to make college accessible. However, to get aid, families must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the application for any kind of federal money, including loans, work-study and grants.

While students filing the FAFSA is up to 70 percent from 45 percent in 1996, there are still students who fail to file by the deadline of June 30. Those who don’t file are forgoing an average of $9,741 in assistance, according to a study published in Research in Higher Education in 2016.

The sooner you file after the application window opens October 1, the better, as funds are awarded first-come, first serve.

For more help in how to file the FAFSA, download PropelU's free ebook, The Ultimate Scholarship Guide

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