Decision Partners Releases Financial Literacy 101 Pilot Program Results
Boston, July 27, 2006 - Decision Partners today announced the conclusion of their Financial Literacy 101 for College pilot program. The pilot was designed to evaluate student reactions to the Financial Literacy 101 for College online financial literacy course and to collect data on the financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of matriculating first-year college students. Over 200 high school seniors took the online course in Massachusetts in May and June.
Financial Literacy 101 for College is an interactive, multimedia financial literacy course designed to help prevent many of the common financial problems faced by today's college students, including unplanned debt, the misuse of credit cards and identity theft. Developed under the guidance of senior administrators from a major university's financial aid office, the course is an immersive, multimedia experience that integrates a curricular learning program with extensive survey and assessment tools. Students may also personalize the course to their individual learning needs.
Schools for the pilot program were recruited with the assistance of the American School Counselor Association. Participating schools included Boston Latin, Nashoba Regional, and North Quincy, among others.
Among high school seniors surveyed, key findings include:
- 69 percent felt "a lot" or "moderate" stress related to paying for college.
- 23 percent of respondents had at least one credit card.
- Students greatly underestimate their likely credit card debt, with 60 percent expecting to graduate with no debt and 27 percent expecting to graduate with less than 1/3 the typical revolving debt level of approximately $3,000.
- Students tend to overestimate their likely starting salaries, with 34 percent expecting to earn nearly 50 percent more per year than the average starting salary for college graduates of approximately $34,000.
- 60 percent of respondents had never discussed college debt with their parents, 48 percent had never discussed credit card management with their parents.
- Students react well to learning about financial literacy online: 97 percent would "recommend the course to friends", 94 percent agreed that they "learned a lot from this course", 77 percent found the course interesting.
- Over 90 percent of students agreed that the course increased their understanding of credit cards in several areas, including the impact of interest on payments, the consequences of misusing credit cards, and the consequences of making just the minimum payment.
Approximately 1/3 of students were required by their teacher to take the course and the remainder took the course independently. Incentives included a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship and a free month of music downloads donated by Napster.
"We're pleased that students say they learn from Financial Literacy 101 for College and would recommend it to their friends," said Austin Jackson, CEO of Decision Partners. "The ability to borrow money to finance college is crucial for today's student, but unplanned and unnecessary college debt can be a crushing burden for years after graduation. By teaching students the basics of budgeting and credit management before they start college, we hope to reduce overall college debt, particularly high interest credit card debt, which - as we see in the survey data - is often unexpected."
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