The financially unprepared
American teen.

It is more difficult than any time in recent history for a young adult to afford a college education, or a starter home. This makes it more important than ever for teens to learn about finances, but schools are not providing this information, and most parents aren’t either. Here’s a look at how our systems are failing to prepare teens and young adults for the increasingly difficult reality of financial adulting – and what we can do about it.


We’re not teaching
financial literacy in school

48% Correct

Average score of a financial literacy exam given to high school seniors.1


Teens who don’t know what a 401(k) is.3


Youth who know what inflation is, and who can do simple interest rate calculations.2


Teens can’t identify the difference between a credit card and a debit card.3


Teens who don’t feel confident about their financial education.3


People ages 18- to 34-years-old that could answer four of five financial literacy questions correctly.4


do not require a high school personal finance course to be offered


do not require standardized testing on financial literacy


do not require a high school personal finance course to be taken5

C on finance test

States that earned a C grade or worse for personal finance education.6

Personal finance textbook

Students who were required to take at least one semester of personal finance in high school.5

Question marks

What can we do about it?

If these statistics seem depressing, take heart in knowing that teenagers respond very well to financial education. Even with as few as 10 hours devoted to the topic, young people significantly increased their understanding of money management, and improved their financial behavior in the ensuing months.7


Teaching financial education
in high school

Students who have taken a financial literacy class in high-school have better average credit scores and lower debt delinquency rates as young adults:


Improvement in credit scores 3 years after implementation of state mandated finance education.

as Likely to Graduate College

Students with high financial literacy scores reported being twice as likely to complete higher education than their low-performing peers.8


Teaching financial education
at home

Lead by Example
Modeling responsible financial decisions is the best way for parents to prepare their children to be financially responsible adults. Unfortunately, most parents may not be leading by example:


Live paycheck to paycheck9

Do not pay all of their bills on time12


No college savings for their children10

Less than $5,000 saved for retirement11

No retirement savings11


Average U.S. household debt13


Live paycheck to paycheck with annual incomes over $100,000. Even those with relatively high average incomes aren’t mirroring wise financial decisions for their kids.14


Talk about

Many parents think family finances are something kids should not be exposed to. From grocery shopping budgets to paying bills, there is no better place to learn about money than in the home.


Let them

Help your child set up their own budget, and reward them financially for sticking to it. Opening a supervised bank account with Copper is a good way to  partner with your teen while giving them some financial freedom to practice under your supervision.


Age requirement to open a bank account with Copper at


Overdraft Fees with Copper


Minimum Balance Fees with Copper

1.6 million+

Copper Banking Members

Copper is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Evolve Bank & Trust; Members FDIC.
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