Financial Literacy in higher ed

Money Matters on Campus details the second-year findings from a survey of 65,000 first-year college students from across the U.S. that sought to better understand the aspects of a student’s life that most significantly predict positive and negative financial outcomes.

The study—conducted by EverFi and sponsored by Higher One – surveyed students on their financial history, perspectives on money management, as well as their past and planned fiscal behaviors. Results mirrored those found in 2012-2013 and significant differences were found among students based on age, race, gender, and institution type. Findings support efforts to mandate financial literacy in high school and highlight the strong connection between knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in this area. This study also addresses the importance of personal experience in the development of this critical skill.

The survey was deployed just before the implementation of an online education program around college wellness. The majority of participants (88 percent) were fi rst-year college students (mean age = 18.6 years). One of the many survey findings revealed a strong correlation between incurring early debt and not being affiliated with a banking institution. Further, an increased risk of negative financially related outcomes, as students and later in life, was correlated with current risky financial attitudes/behaviors.

Traditional financial literacy education focuses primarily on providing simple financial knowledge and reactionary tools, without accounting for a student’s individual attitudes, motivation and behaviors. Money Matters on Campus details the need for a new, proactive approach to financial literacy education based on identified existing attitudes and behaviors. The study also suggests that colleges and universities should provide fi nancial education early on in a student’s college experience, taking into account attitudinal, behavioral, and demographic differences.