Photo Courtesy: Digital Internet
Year after year we read the headlines about how college costs are rising along with student debt levels yet recent studies show that financial literacy in America is as bad or worse now that it was decades ago. We all know that subjects like math and English are mainstays in the curriculum of both secondary and post-secondary education but financial literacy seems to have gotten the short end of the stick. I have always thought that some sort of “Life 101” course should be taught in schools as I have seen so many young adults graduate with an excellent education yet have no idea of how to balance a checkbook or understand the basics of what is required to make a sound, informed financial decision.
For all those reading this right now, I ask you how things might be different in your life had you been equipped early on with the tools and resources to make your financial decisions more sound over the years. I always like to tell people that I am so passionate about financial wellness now because I was the poster child for having made poor financial decisions after college and that those decisions held negative ramifications for many years afterward. Judging by the thousands of adults and students I have spoken to over the years, I know I am not alone in wishing that someone…anyone…had taken the time to help me understand the importance of being financially literate.
But there is good news! Slowly but surely I strongly believe that the tide is turning and that the “powers that be” are realizing the benefit of a more financially well- informed society. More and more states are passing laws to make financial literacy either a mandate or at the very least, an initiative with some funds behind it. Likewise, colleges and universities understand that a student that truly understands their options on how to pay for college is a student that could have a better chance to graduate and ultimately pay off their loans on time. In this day and age of retention and default challenges, financial literacy is a powerful tool in any school’s arsenal of increasing retention and lowering default, let alone to assist their students with understanding financial basics above and beyond just paying for college.
The challenge for us all is to work together to produce the proper tools and resources that can actually make a difference in the lives of the young people we serve. We all know that becoming financially literate is not exactly first in line when competing for a student’s time while at college iGrad is on the forefront of not only understanding what is engaging and relevant to the student of today to make the subject matter more compelling, but also in measuring actions and reactions to certain methods to gauge what moves the needle in changing financial behavior.
If you’re like me, you may remember a special teacher or teachers that made a positive difference in your life because they took a little extra time to make an impact. I look at financial literacy as having the potential to be that missing ingredient that, when added, will allow countless students to look back at their time in school and realize that you did something positive to make them more financially literate. I truly can’t think of a better gift for both parties involved!