Students increasingly interested in learning about personal finance

College students are showing increasing interest in learning more about personal finance and financial well-being, writes Sarah O'Brien for CNBC.

That was the conclusion of a recent study by U.S. Bank.

For the study, U.S. Bank conducted an online survey that asked respondents about their familiarity with financial literacy insights. Responses came from a combination of 1,628 undergraduate college and high school students ages 18-30. U.S. Bank also conducted 21 more detailed interviews with individual students.

Here is a breakdown of what students are interested in most when it comes to financial literacy:

  • Saving money (51%);
  • Investing money (43%);
  • Understanding credit (40%); and
  • Debt and money management (28%).

This interest in personal finance among students was encouraging to researchers, writes O'Brien. However, students do have some misconceptions that must be corrected if they are to succeed in their financial goals. For example, 58% of students were not aware that, despite paying off a delinquent loan or credit card balance, the negative information can remain in an individual's credit history for the next seven to 10 years, writes O'Brien.

How one dean broke the taboo around financial literacy

But attempts to correct misconceptions like this and others are underway on college campuses across the country, reports Ted Beck for the Wall Street Journal.

For example, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system is in the process of implementing educational programming across each of its 114 colleges. The curriculum will include a crash course in financial literacy produced by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). The effort is intended to instill a culture of financial literacy among their more than two million students, writes Beck.

The desired outcome is for students to have the knowledge they need to "save, invest, stay out of debt and have more money saved for retirement," according to the website for CCC's chancellor.  

Other institutions such as the University of Arizona, Texas Tech University, and George Washington University are taking similar steps, writes Beck. For institutions that are not yet emphasizing financial literacy, Beck suggests the following:

  • Engage with the appropriate campus leaders, such as the provost, department chairs, or faculty, about why financial literacy offerings don't exist or ways that existing offerings can reach more students;  
  • Direct your students to free online courses on financial literacy that are offered by respected organizations who are experts on the topic; or
  • Ask university staff or alumni with expertise on the matter to volunteer to teach money-management workshops to students.

(Beck, Wall Street Journal, 8/6; O'Brien, CNBC, 8/3).

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