Julie Jason's Your Money: iGrad program provides financial wisdom for college studentsBy JULIE JASON June 16. 2017 10:40PM
Just about everyone would agree that it's important for college students to learn about money and finance, especially if they are paying for school with student loans. They are, after all, consumers of goods and services, and when they graduate from their parents' households, they will become independent "economic units."
However, a recent study by George Washington University, funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education, shows that millennials are lacking the financial wisdom they need.
The study reports, "Only 24 percent of respondents showed basic financial literacy in the study, with just 8 percent showing a high level of knowledge."
So, here is the dilemma: How do these consumers acquire financial decision-making prowess?`
There is hope - and help.
Recognizing the "alarming lack of financial capability among college students," in 2009 a group of financial-aid professionals formed iGrad, a financial-literacy platform for educational institutions. Its sole mission is "to empower this population to effectively manage their money, limit and repay their debts, and begin successful careers."
More than 600 educational institutions have used the iGrad educational program, serving over 1.2 million students.
The most recent school to partner with iGrad to provide the program is the University of Kentucky. Others include Yale, Harvard, Duke, MIT, UCLA, University of Phoenix, University of Maryland, Baylor University, Berkeley College, Ohio State University and Arizona State.
"Early on, financial aid was the focal point because of student loan debt," explained Todd Woodlee, vice president of iGrad. "But that has transitioned because colleges and universities understand now that it is not just a financial-aid issue, but a campuswide issue that requires campuswide solutions."
Among other things, the iGrad website offers ways to save money, manage finances and make decisions for today and tomorrow.
If you look at Duke's program, under "Prepare for Your Future," the student can even prepare for retirement. Since everyone, even college students, will want to retire someday, it's refreshing to see the program addresses this very important issue. (The Duke program is at http://personalfinance.duke.edu - you don't need to be a student to explore the service.)
Two questions posed to students get them thinking: 1) Why should I plan early for retirement? 2) Is it too early to start saving?
Since I am a longtime proponent of financial literacy, planning for the future has always been an educational special interest.
While I would like to have seen compounding illustrated to show how little it takes for a youth to acquire substantial assets by leveraging time, it's a start. (If you'd like to see some compounding examples, take a look at my website, www.marketmath.org. Look under "Is it Better to Wait?")
I also like the fact that the Duke site directs students to the Finra website for further research (finra.org/investors). Finra, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, regulates the financial-services industry, and as such, is the best source for neutral, evenhanded investment education.
"Students have been asking for something like this [financial-literacy education program] for a number of years," according to Denise Ryan, Harvard School of Law's assistant director of Student Financial Services for Program Development and External Relations.
If you have any interest in this topic, I highly recommend you read this report: "Financial Literacy on Campus: Raising Awareness, Creating and Developing Programs, and Improving Effectiveness" (November 2012). You will find it on the iGrad.com website. The paper identifies best practices and helps isolate "teachable moments" in personal finance, especially on student debt.
Also read "College Financial Literacy Compendium: A Collection of the Top Initiatives and Advice From Colleges Which Are Setting the Bar for Financial Literacy," another iGrad resource.
A third, "Financial Literacy Study Compilation: A Collection of Financial Literacy Studies From the World's Top Educators (July 2015)," goes beyond college students to a broader study of financial literacy.
Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager at Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn., and award-winning author, welcomes questions and comments to email@example.com.