Financial Literacy 101 Case Study Series: The University of South Florida
Boston, March 10, 2013 - The University of South Florida is a four-year public institution serving more than 40,000 students. Since January 2009, the university has required that all incoming freshmen complete Financial Literacy 101's "Financial Basics" course as part of a comprehensive student success program.
As of February 2013, over 16,500 students have completed a course on Financial Literacy 101. Ninety-four percent of participants are considered "dependent" for financial aid purposes and the average age is nineteen years.
Background and Implementation
After noting both an increase in average undergraduate debt and an increase in student loan default rates, the university decided to include financial literacy education as "an essential component of each student's educational experience."
Since 2009, all first-year students have been required to participate in "Life Skills for Student Success," a program designed to teach the skills students need to succeed in college. The program is composed of three modules: Financial Literacy 101, AlcoholEdu, and the USF Survival Guide (health, wellness and safety topics). Students are required to complete all three modules before the first day of class. The program is run through the university's student management system, allowing administrators to monitor completion statistics and scores for each module on a student-by-student basis.
Choosing Financial Literacy 101
When describing the reasons why they chose Financial Literacy 101, Billie Jo Hamilton, Director, University Scholarships & Financial Aid Services, mentioned:
- The pre-course survey allows staff to gauge students' learning as well as their financial attitudes and behaviors. For example, Financial Literacy 101 revealed that over half of all first-year students were worried about the debt they would incur and how it would affect their choices after college.
- The Real World Calculator at the end of the Basics course challenges students' future earning assumptions. It forces students to see that they may have to make some financial choices in order to live within their means.
- The program's approach is not "preachy or condescending," which lends itself well to University of South Florida's population.
Ms. Hamilton also commented "We have been extremely happy with this program not only because it handles a high volume of students at a very affordable cost, but because it provides excellent information in a way that our freshmen can relate to. Students who complete the program indicate that they would recommend it to a friend, which is the best endorsement!"
Based on post-course survey data, students are pleased with the quality of the program and express significant learning gains:
- More than 9 of 10 students agree that Financial Literacy 101 is "a good course."
- More than 9 of 10 students agreed that the program increased their knowledge on a wide range of survey questions related to credit cards and loan payments.
- 4 of 5 students would recommend the program to a friend.
- More than 4 of 5 students agree with the statement, "Overall, I learned a lot from this course."
- More than 4 of 5 students agree that the academic level of the course was "just right."
- 97% of students agree that the information presented was "complete and truthful."
These students took Financial Literacy 101's Financial Basics course, a 90-minute experience that includes multimedia content, budgeting and credit card repayment exercises, personalized feedback, identity theft and financial trouble risk assessments, short and long-term financial goal setting, and comprehensive pre- and post-course surveys. A curriculum outline for this course is available from Decision Partners.
When asked about future plans with their financial education program, Ms. Hamilton stated, "We are not anticipating any changes in how we administer this program in the coming years. Why mess with success!"
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