A new report detailing the findings from a survey of 40,000 first-year college students from across the U.S. demonstrates to colleges and universities how student financial problems not only impact individual student outcomes but also the institutional mission. Money Matters on Campus: How Early Attitudes and Behaviors Affect the Financial Decisions of First-Year College Students identified first-year college students’ attitudes towards debt as well as related financial behaviors to determine what role each plays in student financial outcomes. The study—conducted by EverFi and sponsored by Higher One—surveyed students on banking, savings, credit cards and school loans. The majority of participants (91.2 percent) were first-year college students (mean age = 18.2 years). One of the many survey findings revealed a strong correlation between incurring early debt and not being affiliated with a banking institution. Further, an increased risk of negative financially related outcomes, as students and later in life, was correlated with current risky financial attitudes/behaviors. “ Money Matters on Campus is unique because it offers specific student attitudes and behaviors on which educators and policy makers must focus and address. This report sounds the alarm that institutions must augment current financial literacy education,” said Mary Johnson, Director of Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy at Higher One. “We need to ensure students entering into college are given the right financial literacy education, tools and support to make sound financial decisions while in college and beyond.” Traditional financial literacy education focuses primarily on providing simple financial knowledge and reactionary tools, without accounting for a student’s individual attitudes, motivation and behaviors. Money Matters on Campus details the need for a new, proactive approach to financial literacy education based on identified existing attitudes and behaviors. “Colleges and universities—especially those enrolling greater numbers of first-generation students than ever before—have an obligation to improve financial literacy and increase positive financial outcomes for our students,” said Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College in Illinois. “As leaders concerned with transparency, accountability and access, our primary and time-honored concerns are to educate the whole person, which must include students’ financial health.”
Although there are many areas of concern around the student behaviors and attitudes outlined in the report, there are also signs for encouragement—specifically in terms of banking behavior, with 86 percent of survey participants having a checking account and over 65 percent interacting with their bank’s website at least a couple of times a month.“Even though many of the findings are alarming, such as the number of first-year students with credit cards [28.2 percent], flippant attitudes toward certain negative financial behaviors and the large majority who worry about debt [79.2 percent], there were also some areas that present room for some optimism,” said Daniel Zapp, Associate Director of Research at EverFi. “For instance, students with a checking account were found to be more likely to exhibit several other positive financial behaviors.” A full copy of Money Matters on Campus as well as an infographic summarizing the report’s key findings can be downloaded at www.moneymattersoncampus.org. About Higher One Higher One is a leading company focused on creating cost-saving efficiencies for higher education institutions and providing high-value services to students. Higher One offers a wide array of technological services on campus, ranging from streamlining the institution’s performance analytics and financial aid refund processes to offering students innovative banking services, tuition payment plans, and the basics of financial management. Higher One works closely with colleges and universities to allocate resources more efficiently in order to provide a higher quality of service and education to students. Founded in 2000 on a college campus by students, Higher One now serves more than half of the higher education market, providing its services to over 1,300 campuses almost 11 million students at distinguished public and private institutions nationwide. More information about Higher One can be found at www.higherone.com. About EverFi, Inc. EverFi, Inc. is the leading education technology company focused on teaching, assessing, and certifying K-12 and college students in the critical skills they need for life. The company is powering a national movement in 50 states that enables students to learn using the latest technology, including rich media, 3D gaming, simulations, social networking, and virtual worlds. EverFi’s AlcoholEdu® for College is one of the few education technology programs proven to reduce student alcohol use and negative consequences, as demonstrated through independently conducted, empirical research funded by the National Institutes of Health. EverFi has reached more than 4.5 million students with its online learning platforms.
Learn more at www.everfi.com.