Building credit and paying for bills cited as key findings


 (June 18, 2001 – Wilmington, DE) – This year’s graduating high school seniors – 2.8 million teens – have spent as much on CDs as food, according to the First USA Financial Index, but the majority say they’re ready to face the financial music as they head to college this fall. Highlights include:  


Forecasting a Fiscally Fit Future For Freshman


·        Scholars are Serious About Dollars  -- When asked to describe their attitude towards money, nearly 1.7 million high school graduates (63 percent) said they “want to use money responsibly.”


·        Teens Plan to be “B.M.O.C.” (Budget Minded on Campus)  -- More than 612,000 of the college-bound students (34 percent) have already determined a budget for their freshman year.  The most careful planners typically spend more than $100 during an average week.


·        College Freshman to Foot the Bill -- Although two out of five high school grads plan to carry a credit card with them to college, 63 percent will pay the bill themselves, while mom and dad will cover the bill for 36 percent.


·        Students Self-Sufficient for College Costs  -- Only one in 10 students will rely solely on mom and dad to cover tuition and expenses.  About a third (32 percent) will receive financial aid, scholarships or student loans, while nearly half (47 percent) say they will use a combination of several methods, including parental contributions.


·        “Working” it! -- To earn extra cash, 1.3 million students (71 percent) say they’ll most likely have a job during their freshman year, preferring to work as a store clerk (21 percent), waiter or waitress (20 percent) or in the bookstore (17 percent).


·        Cash is Out…Plastic is In -- While 80 percent of high school students paid for their purchases with “green,” cash purchases are expected to decrease from 80 to 55 percent once teens hit campus this fall.   Credit card/debit card usage should jump 10 percent, from 13 to 23 percent.


“It looks like we have a generation of success-minded young men and women on our hands,” said Doug Filak, Senior Vice President of Marketing Strategy at First USA.  “It’s our job, as parents and responsible citizens, to give them all the tools they need to succeed, especially a solid education in money management.”


Fashion, Food and Music Top Spends for High School Seniors


According to the First USA Financial Index, nearly 20 percent of high school seniors spent between $50 to $100 per week this past year.  Fashion topped their must-buy list with         44 percent spending a majority of their funds on clothes.  Tied for second place were music and food – 16 percent put their money where their mouth was and 14 percent of the soon-to-be-grads used their cash to acquire hot tunes. 


The First USA Financial Index indicates that teen spending habits will soon change once they hit campus this fall.  Although, at 44 percent, they will still shell out the dough for new “duds,” teens expect their food expenses to rise to 43 percent, given that the family refrigerator is hundreds of miles away.


First USA Offers New Course to Incoming Freshman


First USA will be helping many of these high school grads master their money management skills through a nationwide financial education initiative.  “The attitudes and intentions of these college-bound young men and women are admirable and encouraging,” said Filak.  “The first year away from home is a challenging one, filled with many financial concerns.  Our goal is to provide tools and knowledge to make responsible spending and saving a reality.”


As part of its outreach campaign, First USA has joined forces with popular university-bound high school grads Chris Barrett and Luke McCabe, known to millions as Chris and Luke, the “first corporate sponsored college students.”  As “student ambassadors” for First USA, Chris and Luke will help spread the word about the importance of financial management.


“I’m not surprised by the First USA Financial Index findings,” said Luke McCabe, who is headed to University of Southern California (USC) this fall.  “Kids today aren’t expecting a free ride; they’re ready and willing to work hard for the good things in life.  We’re looking forward to keeping them on track so they can meet and exceed their goals.”


The First USA Financial Index is a branded survey of over 400 American high school graduating seniors.  For more information about the First USA Financial Index findings, visit the website at