Lack of financial education leaves students fighting debt

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With tuition costs skyrocketing in recent years, for the average college student, managing personal finances can seem difficult. Every student nation wide has probably been affected by the drastic increase in the price of pursuing higher education. For most, having control over their finances is lost in the mix of a fast-paced college lifestyle.

According to a recent EverFi survey of more than 65,000 college students from across the U.S., most college students lack a solid foundation in financial literacy, which has negatively influenced their financial attitudes and behaviors. The study,Money Matters on Campus,” revealed that as credit card debt and school loan debt increased, there was a growth in unhealthy attitudes and behaviors toward spending, saving and debt.

This year’s study, compared to EverFi’s 2012-13 study, showed nearly identical statistics in every area of both behavior and attitudes. Results showed that approximately 61 percent of students graduate with student loans. Of those students, 58 percent of students had at least $5,000 in student loans; of that same 61 percent, 47 percent had at least $10,000 in student loan debt. Each of these percentages saw an increase in 1 percent from the previous year’s study.

With the number of U.S. students struggling with student loans increasing ever year, K-State’s student body and faculty have felt the pressure grow dramatically.

“The number one reason why students drop out of school is money,” Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, said. “I lose sleep over the cost of attendance, and how some of my students and families find difficulty in continuing their education.”

Bosco, alongside other staff and faculty members at K-State, said he understands the difficulty of managing personal finances as well as the crucial importance of financial literacy. There are several powerful resources available on campus to better educate students about maintaining control of their debt and financial futures.

Powercat Financial Counseling is a free personal finance resource for students on campus that focuses on budgeting, understanding and managing credit, and student loan management.

“K-State is really one of the few universities
in the country that offers students as much support and outreach for financial
support that we have,”
Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial Counseling, said. “We offer a number of different options for
students getting ready to graduate. It really helps reduce stress towards
graduation.


Bosco and Kaus agreed that it is oftentimes difficult to prioritize personal finance management.

“It’s a ‘firehose’ of information, so we hope to continue to integrate financial management into the curriculum, because the strategies of financial literacy is potentially life changing,” Bosco said.

Bosco said that Myra Gordon, associate provost for diversity, is developing a pilot plan to help students survive college through workshops to help build life skills, including financial planning.

Kaus said realistically adding personal finances into required curriculum, which could serve as a solution to the lack of financial education students are receiving coming into college, is a potential avenue for universities to explore.

“I am a big proponent,” Kaus said. “I certainly think it should be, although it is a challenge to add it logistically into being a required part of the curriculum.”

According to Money Matters on Campus, only 17 U.S. states currently have required curriculum for financial literacy and planning; Kansas is not one of them.

There was one personal finance class offered at my high school, but it was just an elective where everyone knew people just messed around in,” Luke Hougland, sophomore in finance, said. “I didn’t take it.”

With a lack of financial literacy prioritized in primary education across the country, many believe that universities have a growing responsibility to educate their students on personal finance management.

Hougland said if students knew how to budget, save and invest, they could move on from being a “broke college student” and set themselves up for success and security in the future.

“Why not make a personal finance class be one of the K-State 8 requirements?” Hougland said. “Why not take away public speaking and replace it with personal finance?”

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