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Back to College Financial Literacy: Learning the Basics for the Class of 2017

Sept. 11, 2013
Loans, Student Loans
Back to College Financial Literacy
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According to a study from the National Council on Economic Education, 38 states require personal finance standards in their education systems, with only seven of these states going as far as requiring personal finance education at the high school level. The result is minimal financial literacy among college students.

As students enter the realm of college life, they need much more than textbooks and a backpack. They need an understanding and a skill-set for managing their money so that they’re not burdened by poor financial decision-making and debt, ensuring a path toward financial wellness for the entirety of their lives. Unfortunately, evidence shows that today’s generation of college students have low levels of financial literacy.

In a longitudinal study by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, a 45-minute written test was given to high school students every two years, from 1997-2008, and each year the students averaged a failing grade of 52%. The same test was then administered to 924 college students who ended up averaging a 53% passing rate—among these students, women, non-business majors, and those in lower academic years scored the lowest. Given all the statistics, it is evident that there is a financial literacy gap that has led to conspicuous spending and blind financial planning. This is especially problematic as freshmen students live away from home and on their own for the very first time.

Consequently, colleges across the country have stepped up to the plate to help fill this gap and educate their students on the issue. They offer freshmen an array of tools, centers, courses, seminars, and events that instill the knowledge and skills to be financially successful at a young age.

As the new academic college year starts, NerdScholar highlights some of the schools taking the lead to educate their college freshmen about financial literacy in the following categories:

    • Financial literacy education through events and workshops: These events provide numerous opportunities that pave the path for freshmen to learn skills to manage one’s fiscal resources during their first year of college and beyond.
    • Financial literacy education through semester-long courses: These course offerings for freshmen allow them focus on a financial literacy curriculum for an entire semester.

Financial literacy education through events and workshops

 Pennsylvania State University:

Pennsylvania State University is offering a popular financial webinar this month on September 26th, which will focus on student loan repayment, teaching the basics on how student loans work from the beginning of a student’s college experience. Specifically, students will be taught to successfully start the loan repayment process, and learn how to protect their financial reputation throughout the loan duration.

Additionally, their financial literacy site provides ample resources, such as online programs, tools, books, articles and reports giving any student the opportunity to gain the skills needed to make better financial decisions.

University of Nebraska at Lincoln:

The University of Nebraska Lincoln provides an entire forum, the Student Money Management Center, for students to access and view numerous workshops at any time. Workshops vary from affording study abroad programs and affordable spring break trips, to moving off campus and reducing debt.

UNL also provides students the opportunity to schedule monthly financial check-ups with faculty. Students can go over current and future budgets on a one-on-one basis, ensuring that they’re on the right financial path. Coaching sessions such as Money Secrets, Boot Camps, and Fairs can also be taken advantage of periodically throughout the year. Check the most current calendar for the next upcoming event.

Colorado State University:

Colorado State University offers three free online webinars that teach students the financial basics. For example, this month, they offer a weekly webinar called Money Mondays on September 16th, 23rd, and 30th, focusing on the importance of budgeting. From learning what your should prioritize to seeing how to build out a budget framework, these online workshops let students gain useful money skills.

October’s Money Mondays will focus on understanding credit scores and preventing identity theft. CSU’s thirty-minute webinars will undoubtedly help its students handle their finances throughout their college careers.

Financial literacy education through freshman courses

 Menlo College:

The required Financial Literacy course, ACC150 Personal Finance for College, is taken by all freshmen during their spring semester. Founder and Director of Menlo’s Center for Financial Literacy, professor Donna Little teaches the course, providing leadership and innovative education that assists freshmen in becoming financially literate at the college level. Professor Little is dedicated to helping her students relate complicated financial concepts to their own life so as to develop their financial literacy skills.

 University of New Hampshire:

The University of New Hampshire provides a mandatory online course, Financial Literacy 101, for freshmen to take upon starting their first day on campus. It’s an easy-to-follow online course that takes about 45 minutes, providing students with information on campus money management resources, and information on money management in general.

This mini-course will be the first material any incoming UNH student absorbs as initial stages of college life begin. Students come into college knowing what resources are available to them and can leverage them at their own convenience.

Brigham Young University Marriott School:

BYU’s online Personal Finance courses are designed to teach financial literacy and self-reliance to their incoming and current students. The courses were created by the Dean of the Marriott School of management, Gary Cornia, with each of the three continuous sections having been reviewed by faculty and staff in the Marriott School of Management.

The material is applicable to young people with little financial knowledge to people who have extensive experience in fiscal matters, to everyone in between, all with the main goal of increasing financial literacy.