The following guest post comes from Kathy Ruby, Senior Manager of College Finance at College Coach and former senior financial aid officer at St. Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
I recently returned from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator (NASFAA)
Conference, an annual financial aid administrators gathering. When I was a Director of Financial Aid, I attended this conference regularly to network, stay up-to-date on federal regulations, and learn about the most effective ways to serve students and families. It was great to reconnect with my former colleagues and learn about the hot issues in financial aid offices today as a College Coach educator
Financial Literacy and Tomorrow's Workforce
The topic of financial literacy education came up again and again during the conference. In our complex and fast-paced economy, the lack of financial awareness among our youth is a critical issue that financial aid officers encounter daily. According to the National Financial Educators Council, almost two-thirds of 15-18 year-olds recently scored less than 70% on the National Financial Literacy Test
. The test measures teens' knowledge of personal finance topics, and perhaps more importantly their motivation to understand how it impacts their lives and to learn money management skills. In addition, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that American teens are just average at financial literacy
, lagging well behind youth from other countries like China, Australia, and New Zealand.
Before you know it, these youth will be entering the workforce, potentially bringing large student loan debts with them that can stress and distract them from their jobs. And without education on personal finance topics, these employees' financial stresses may not end with the final student loan payment. Consider these financial stressors: mortgages, credit and auto loan payments, graduate school costs, and even saving for their own children's education.
Kids' Personal Finance Affects Their Working Parents
Some colleges have begun offering financial education programs on their campuses, in order to help students manage rising student loan debt and a challenging economic environment. It's a necessity, but some would say an inadequate fix for a problem that needed an earlier solution. By the end of freshman year, students unprepared for financial independence have already made unwise borrowing and credit decisions. They're heading down a worrisome financial path that will keep them financially dependent upon their parents well into adulthood. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data, a greater percentage of young adults (age 18-31) currently live with their parents
than at any time in the past four decades.
A Need for Earlier Personal Finance Education
It's clear that personal finance skills need to be taught earlier. That's why College Coach
is thrilled to announce its newest program, Money Smart: Raising Finance-Wise Kids.
Employees with kids between the ages of 10 and 16 will receive personalized advice and tools to use to raise financially-savvy kids. We'll provide resources on allowances, budgeting, and saving for long- and short-term goals as well as credit, investing, and taxation basics. Parents should teach their kids money management skills early to prepare them for a smooth transition to financial independence. By providing your employees the tools to raise finance-wise kids, you show them that your company cares about the people who matter most to them.'This helps build a positive corporate culture and an engaged workforce who has the confidence to focus on work, knowing that their kids are well-prepared for a lifetime of financial decisions. And before you know it, those kids will be joining the workforce themselves.