Community college and university personal financial literacy classes

Financial literacy may not be a graduation requirement at a university, college or community college. However, it is important that students have real financial capability.

Why does personal financial literacy matter for university and community college students?

  • community college financial literacyAccording to the 2008 Jump$tart Coalition personal financial literacy survey, funded by Merrill Lynch Foundation, high school seniors correctly answered only 48.3 percent of the questions. This is a decrease from the 52.4 percent in 2006.
  • The 2008 personal finance survey results indicated higher financial literacy scores for college students versus high school students. College students answered 62 percent of the questions correctly. College freshman averaged 59 percent correct; college seniors correctly answered 65 percent. That’s still not a passing grade.
  • “The purpose of a college education is to help students learn how to solve problems,” said Kristy Vienne who directs Sam Houston State’s Student Money Management Center, which helps students help themselves, “and we see a lot of students who are in need of solutions. The first step is to become financially literate.”
  • The average student has roughly $23,000 in student loans, $4,000 in credit card debt and 4 credit cards.
  • It takes as few as 10 hours to change financial illiteracy into financial literacy.

Examples and test results: High School, College, Community College and University Personal Financial Literacy Quiz

Where do financial literacy classes and financial counseling occur on college and community college campuses?

  • Financial education classes are often offered by college financial aid or student aid offices. This may be part of regular financial aid services (e.g., FAFSA, Pell Grants, etc.) or it can be associated with emergency financial aid. TRIO colleges must, for example, offer financial education as part of grant requirements.
  • Student counseling services offices. There is a big overlap between financial issues and other life and academic issues.
  • Residence life programs on life skills and financial education that take place in dorms.
  • Career centers and career counselors and coaches. Part of getting a job is understanding how to effectively manage one’s personal finances and plan for the future.
  • Financial classes. This may be in business schools that teach accounting and financial planning. Or it may be in family and consumer science (FACS) classes teaching financial education concepts.
  • Peer financial counseling. This is offered on a select number of college campuses. In Addition to SamHoustonState, a good example of this is seen in Texas Tech’s Red to Black student financial counseling program. (Red to Black uses Money Habitudes cards.)

Why and how Money Habitudes is used in college and university financial literacy programs:

  1. Money Habitudes is a fun, hands-on teaching tool. Because it feels like playing cards, it seems like a familiar game. The tactile feel gets college students more involved than just listening to lectures, doing worksheets or watching a PowerPoint presentation.
  2. We know that busy college students don’t want to go to a boring financial class, even if they need it.
  3. The cards get beyond making a budget to begin important conversations about the interaction between lifestyle, values and finances, leading to behavior change breakthroughs in saving and spending habits.
  4. Much like a personal finance game, Money Habitudes is easy for facilitators, coaches and counselors to learn and easy to teach.
  5. The Money Habitudes cards can be used by individual financial counseling or in financial education classes.
  6. It gets college students to talk about money – and do it in a fun, effective, nonjudgmental way. The Money Habitudes money management game can be easily integrated with other personal finance or student financial aid materials.
  7. It’s a flexible tool. It can be used as a money personality assessment or as more of a financial conversation starter. It can be used just as a quick money ice breaker or as a full class that serves as an introduction to money management. Using the cards can take a few minutes or can last for an hour or two.
  8. As a money personality test, it addresses financial behavior, habits, attitudes and money values. Allows for financial classes to address financial behavior and relationship issues; transitions well to financial skills-based classes and curricula.
  9. The financial conversation starter cards get students to talk about money. Money is an important topic that produces real conversations. A college – or especially a community college – with a large number of commuter students may find that the cards spark conversations which build camaraderie.
  10. The cards use simple language and statements. Questions like, “When I’m stressed I go shopping?” key on lifestyle issues. They do not require an understanding of financial concepts and don’t require a participant to do math. The Money Habitudes II cards in financial education classes for college and community college groups.

Types of personal finance classes and financial counseling that use Money Habitudes in colleges, community colleges and universities:

  • Budgeting
  • Student loans
  • Money management
  • Buying a home, foreclosure prevention
  • Buying a car
  • Debt elimination, debt consolidation
  • Love and money; finances and relationships
  • Employee benefits
  • Bankruptcy
  • Post-graduation expenses
  • Family and premarital finances
  • Building credit
  • Investing and retirement