A study has revealed a clear need for greater and more differentiated financial literacy education in the K-12 environment.
The “Money Matters On Campus” report, now in its second-year, polled some 65,000 first-year college students across the country. In addition to the need for an early financial understanding, survey results indicate that colleges and universities should provide financial education at the onset of a student’s college experience to better ensure that students will make sound financial decisions later on. The study was conducted by Higher One and education technology specialist EverFi.
The study polled students on banking, savings, credit card usage and school loans, as well as featured a series of questions designed to assess students’ financial knowledge. Significant differences in students’ financial understanding were found based on age, race, gender and institution type. Moreover, survey data suggests that a mandatory financial literacy education in high school underlines fosters a positive relationship between knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in the financial arena.
The survey shows that those students who received financial literacy education in high school scored significantly higher than their peers on financial knowledge questions and have made more responsible financial decisions.
It is important to note that no group of students scored particularly well on the knowledge-based questions, with students answering 2.3 out of six questions correctly on average. Financial knowledge did, however, significantly increased alongside responsible fiscal attitudes and behaviors, age, high school financial literacy education experience and socio-economic status.
The report indicates that having a checking account was once again positively correlated financial practices like budgeting, saving and managing debt. Additionally, as credit card debt or tuition loan debt increased, students were more likely to demonstrate unhealthy attitudes and behaviors towards spending and saving.
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. The study from Higher One and EverFi prescribes a more proactive approach to financial literacy education that identifies existing attitudes and behaviors and provides knowledge that can be used to create positive habits in the future.
The Money Matters on Campus report can be found, in its entirety, here.