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Having "the talk": Discussing financial issues with your kids

Springtime in the U.S. brings with it warmer weather, new growth -- and a lot of uncertainty for millions of high school seniors and their parents, who are anxiously awaiting acceptance or rejection notices from colleges.

Last autumn, according to National Center for Education Statistics, 21 million students were enrolled at American colleges and universities, an increase of about 5.7 million compared to fall of 2000.

But a new study reveals a surprising disconnect between college-bound teenagers and their parents, over just who will be footing the bill for those higher education costs.

The Teens and Personal Finance survey, conducted annually on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and the Allstate Foundation, reached out to around 800 U.S. teenagers ages 13 to 18, as well as 800 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. For the first time in the poll's 16-year history, the 2015 survey was expanded to include parents.

And this year it found that while nearly half of the teens surveyed thought their parents would help to pay for their college education, only 16 percent of parents of teens say they're planning to finance that post-secondary education.

"Based on this year's findings, it is obvious that parents and teens need to have honest conversations about money management, including paying for college," Jack Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement USA, said in a press statement.

"Together as a family, it is important to develop a plan for life after high school -- whatever that looks like for your family," he added.

The survey also suggests that parents need to do a better job when it comes to educating their children about finances and money management skills. While 84 percent of the teen respondents said they look to their parents for such information, more than a third of the parents surveyed said they don't discuss financial matters with their children, preferring instead to "let kids be kids."

And there also appears to be a gender gap when it comes to parents talking with their children about money. Parents are nearly twice as likely to talk to their teen sons about money management than to their daughters. And when it comes to discussions about paying for college, 34 percent of teen boys said they'd spoken with their parents about the subject, compared to 23 percent of teen girls surveyed.

"This year's survey clearly shows parents play a critical role in helping their kids understand how to manage money and become financially savvy," said Jim Haskins, executive vice president, Allstate, and board member of Junior Achievement of Chicago. "Talking with our kids about money management at an early age prepares them to more confidently handle financial decisions in the future."

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