Emphasis on Financial Literacy Could Help Students Borrow More Responsibly


Financial literacy is not typically a top priority for American teens but new research shows that taking a course in personal finance could help teens borrow more responsibly for college.

Researchers at Montana State University found when students are required to take personal finance courses to graduate high school, they are more likely to shift from high-cost borrowing to low-cost borrowing to finance their college degree.

Students who took these classes were about 10 percent more likely to apply for federal financial aid and take out a federal loan than those without financial education, according to the study.

Carly Urban, an associate professor of economics at Montana State University and co-author of the study, told Money that it isn’t enough for states to encourage personal finance course. There needs to be more buy-in from the state, from the schools, and from educators.

She referenced a case study that compared school districts that required personal finance to graduate with districts that offered it an as elective. This study found that simply offering the course had no measurable effect.

“You have to be all in,” Urban told Money. “It’s not going to change outcomes if you have a very loose or wishy washy policy. There has to be enforcement and implementation.”

For more resources on financing college, visit our Knowledge Center.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

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