Decision Partners Launches Financial Literacy Program for Massachusetts High School Seniors
Boston, April 24, 2007 - Decision Partners, Inc. today announced that Financial Literacy 101, an online financial literacy course for high school seniors and college students, is now available to all high school seniors in Massachusetts. This groundbreaking program is being promoted to schools through the Massachusetts School Counselors Association and follows a successful pilot of the program in MA last year.
Access information for the course, teachers' guides, and over 75,000 student handouts are currently being delivered to over 300 schools across the state.
"Bringing a proven financial literacy program to every student has long been a goal of educators, legislators, and parents," said Austin Jackson, CEO of Decision Partners. "But only a handful of states offer even rudimentary financial literacy education to all students. Through this new program, every graduating senior and their parents will have access to a financial education customized to this crucial time of transition. We plan to quickly replicate this model in other states and at the college level."
Why Teach Financial Literacy?
Today's young people face financial responsibilities scarcely imaginable to their parents' generation. In fact, young people are increasingly referred to as "Generation Broke" because of the extraordinary debt levels they carry. As college costs have risen, so have debt levels:
- Over half of all undergraduates leave school with over $5,000 in credit card debt and over one third leave college with over $10,000 in credit card debt.
- The average recent college graduate has over four credit cards.2
- The average student loan debt of college graduates is approaching $20,000 for an undergraduate degree - more than twice the average of 10 years ago.
Further, financial challenges can begin to take a toll on students as early as their first year in college. According to a recent survey of nearly 100,000 first-year college students:
- 60 percent report that "financial problems" interfere with their schoolwork.
- 30 percent report "financial problems that are very distracting and troublesome."
"Decision Partners' financial literacy program should be an integral part of every high school senior's success plan," said Jan Tkaczyk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Counselors Association. "Preparation for handling personal finances is every bit as important as all other aspects of career success planning."
The Financial Literacy 101 Financial Literacy Course
Financial Literacy 101 is an immersive, multimedia experience that teaches students the decision-making skills they need to navigate the financial challenges they will face as newly independent adults. The course starts by encouraging students to think about their financial attitudes and behaviors - often for the first time - and then helps them learn the practical knowledge they need to avoid common financial problems. Topics include: creating a budget, understanding the risks and benefits of credit cards, choosing the right bank account, understanding credit reports and credit scores, debt management strategies, and a host of other financial topics important to young adults.
Many students believe that they do not need to learn about financial literacy since they "have no money" and rely on student loans. Through personalized interactive exercises and multimedia instruction, the course helps students realize that all of the money they spend is "their" money since it must be repaid with interest. The course then links financial decisions made in college to concrete post-graduation consequences, leading to what many course participants have called "ah ha" moments. For example, eliminating one daily habit, such as a lattÃ© at a coffee shop, could save over $5,000 over four years - potentially eliminating 25% of the average student loan debt.
By engaging students with a "real world" learning experience in a personalized online environment, the course truly communicates with the Digital Generation. In fact, over 90% of students who have completed the course say they would recommend it to a friend.
After completing the course, students continue to enjoy access to their "My Student Aid" page - a personalized webpage that organizes the comprehensive tools and resources available through Financial Literacy 101. The page includes an online financial journal, a personal notepad for each content area, all the interactive calculators used in the course, personalized course and website bookmarks, comprehensive textual resources, downloadable fact sheets, course review capability, and comprehensive information on financial aid options.
The course places no significant administrative burdens on school staff and may be taken as part of an "in the classroom" exercise, assigned as homework, or taken independently by the student. Decision Partners also encourages parents to play an active role in their child's financial education by taking the course themselves, discussing the printable course fact sheets, and sharing their own financial experiences. Studies have shown that students who discuss financial topics with their parents are much less likely to experience financial problems while in college.
Decision Partners also offers a scholarship program as an incentive to encourage student participation.
Decision Partners programs may be funded by educational lenders, guarantee agencies, or individual schools, and offer turnkey solutions for addressing student finance issues. For more information about the Financial Literacy 101 for College financial literacy program or the Financial Literacy 101 for High School financial aid course, please contact us.
To learn more about bringing one of our services to your organization, please contact us.