UPDATE: This is what it will take to get colleges to teach financial literacy

09/07/17 04:59 AM EDT

By Ted Beck

Don't limit focus to the college diploma

Many families are engaged in a not-so-pleasant late-summer ritual: writing college tuition checks or filling out student-loan paperwork. As you send off your hard-earned money you might want to find out what your child's -- or your own -- school is doing to improve student financial knowledge. Are they going to be prepared to pay their average $34,000 in student loan debt and manage the rest of their financial lives effectively?

A recent survey (http://www.nefe.org/Press-Room/News/Where-Financial-Education-Has-the-Greatest-Impact)of 2,000 adults from the National Endowment for Financial Education found more than half (53%) of respondents believe financial education gets the best results in college, second only to high-school instruction (68%) and ahead of lessons in the home (43%).

And nearly half of respondents (47%) think financial literacy helps keep people out of debt. Roughly two in five conclude learning about money early helps with managing credit (39%), sticking to a budget (38%) and planning for retirement (37%).

I often hear people gripe that nothing is being done to help college graduates establish positive money-management behaviors. I agree that schools should be doing more. But when I transitioned to the financial-education community 12 years ago, there wasn't any action from colleges and universities. Now there are literally hundreds of institutions taking responsibility and doing something to see this vision through. Here are a couple examples of those taking the lead.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers two 16-week courses for one credit that teach money management (https://sohe.wisc.edu/financial-life-skills-prepared-transition/). One offering is directed at freshmen and sophomores and the other for juniors and seniors. These courses are supported by peer counselors from the personal-finance major who conduct small group sessions. The UW alumni association also has long-offered a free one-day workshop for graduating seniors in cooperation with local financial professionals that draws up to 300 attendees.

The University of North Texas has a student money-management center (http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/student-money-management-center) that includes online resources, workshops, seminars, personal consultations, and with certain eligibility, loan programs. The center reaches more than 9,000 students each academic year.

The California Community College System is creating a culture of financially literate young adults by embedding education programs (http://extranet.cccco.edu/Divisions/StudentServices/FinancialAid/FinancialAidPrograms/FinLit.aspx) at all 114 colleges in the system. They intend to reach their more than two million students.

Other schools with impressive programs include the University of Arizona, Texas Tech, George Washington University.

Rather than complaining that college graduates don't know enough about managing money, here's what you can do:

We should not limit our focus on the college diploma. Let's ensure that we all are helping young adults make smart financial decisions in college and beyond.

-Ted Beck; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-07-17 0459ET

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