Teen girls cast wary eye on student debt

By UK CreditCards.com

A new study by investment provider Friends Life has shed light on young people's expectations about their finances when they leave home for university.

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The research suggests that teenage girls tend to have a better idea than boys of the financial difficulties that lie ahead and are more open to taking on part-time work and unpaid internships.

However, the study also indicates that both girls and boys overestimate the amount they are likely to be paid upon leaving university.

Girls more realistic than boys
Teenage girls are more realistic about their ability to afford undergraduate life and pay off their student debts than boys, according to the Friends Life study. Researchers polled 876 youngsters, aged 16 to 19, to find out their financial expectations.

They found that 54% of girls thought they would be unable to afford university, compared with just 38% of boys. In addition, 64% of girls said they planned to work during both university term-time and holidays, compared with only 46% of boys.

The survey also showed that female students expect to take 12 years to pay off their loans, overdrafts and credit cards, compared with 10 years for the average male.

But both sexes overestimate earning potential
However, despite their more realistic approach to the costs involved with attending university, the research revealed that girls only expect a slightly lower salary upon graduating from university than boys.

Both sexes were found to overestimate the amount they would earn in their first graduate job, with girls expecting an average of £23,000 and boys anticipating a £24,500 salary. In reality, the 67% of students who find full-time employment within a year of graduating earn an average of just £20,000.

Rob Barnett, HR director at Friends Life, said: "It appears young women have a more realistic outlook than young men on student finances and the hardships they might face during and after a degree. Young women expect to earn less and pay more. This might be because they mature quicker than young men and give serious issues like finance greater thought in their late teens."

See related: Study: Debt boosts young people's self esteem; 4 money mistakes university students often make

Published: 27 October 2011